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Campaign to tackle international parental child abduction

Recent figures released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have shown a 10% increase in the number of new cases of children being abducted by a parent and taken to a country that is not party to the Hague child abduction convention.


The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention usually applies where a parent takes a child abroad without the consent of the other parent, or agreement of a court. The convention provides a procedure for the parent to apply for the return of the child, and a 'return order' will normally be issued. If a child is taken to a country that has not signed up to the convention, it is much harder for a parent to secure his or her return, as there are no international systems in place to help.


To highlight the growing problem, the FCO has launched a child abduction prevention campaign, which aims to inform parents about what they can do if they are worried their child is at risk.


While it won't always be obvious that a child is at risk of parental abduction, there are a number of signs that parents should watch out for. According to Sharon Cooke, Advice Line Manager for Reunite International Child Abduction Centre: 


"The most obvious warning sign is a break down in a relationship but other signs may include a sudden interest in getting a passport or copy birth certificate for the child; a parent expressing a wish to holiday alone with the child; a change in circumstances such as leaving employment or redundancy, selling a house or giving up tenancy. There may also be a sudden change in contact arrangements or constant difficulty in being able to see the child."

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