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Persistent missing young persons…..missing person or abduction?

April 8, 2010

What would you do in these circumstances?

Johnny Depp, (13), keeps running away from home. The police always tend to find him at Maria’s house. Maria has been given a harbourers warning twice? There is nothing untoward in terms of any current relationship between the two.

(1) Do you keep on issuing harbourer warnings?

(2) On the fourth occasion do you record an abduction because Maria is keeping Johnny away from where he should be; at home, by allowing him to stay with her?

(3) For every further occasion that this occurs do you record abductions?

All of a sudden recorded abductions increase, of course they are detected, mostly by caution or restorative justice. But are these really abductions?


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13 comments

  1. Interesting.

    In your story, I don’t actually understand what Maria is doing wrong. His mum presumably knows where he is. What is Maria supposed to do?

    1. Turn him out into the street in the middle of the night?
    2. Ring his mum to get him (she is drunk and cannot come)?
    3. Ring the police to send him home?

    Really, what is the right answer? I think if I was Maria I would be cursing the lot of you for busybodies. If his mum is so concerned let her make arrangements to fetch him.


  2. Missing young people are often found in someones house. It’s a sort of culture thing.

    They get acquainted and they have somewhere to go and stay. Sometimes relationships develop.

    It’s not about what maria should do, Maria allows the young person to stay. The question is; is this an abduction?


  3. None of the above. Record the woman as a possible point of contact should Johnny (13) abscond again.

    What’s she supposed to do? Turn him out onto the street for fear of being fingered as an abductor? Better that he be safe indoors (even if not with legal guardians) than out wandering the streets (possibly being abducted, or terrorizing the grannies).

    What would Peel do?

    What do I know though? I’m just a civvy who sees the world in terms of common sense, thankfully I’m not one of the poor bloody coppers trapped in the Kafka-esque world of modern British policing.


  4. On what theory is it abduction? What’s the relevant law? I am struggling to see how it could be. She is allowing him to stay, not forcing him. As long as his mum knows she can come and get him Maria isn’t doing anything wrong.

    And how does the harbourer’s warning go? Something like this perhaps?

    “Listen, I know you aren’t doing anything wrong. But you have to understand how bonkers child protection teams are. If his mum complains, you could end up being arrested, with ‘suspicion of being a child abductor’ on your file, basically forever, and never pass a CRB check again. It could make you unemployable.

    As long as you ring his mum every time he comes, tell her where he is and make sure she knows she can come and get him any time you should be OK, but don’t mess with child protection, or you will be entering a hell Kafka only dreamed of.”


  5. Seriously, on what theory is this abduction? I really, really want to know.

    Shouldn’t you just tell the mum, next time “Have you phoned Maria? He is often there, perhaps he is there now? Phone her, if he isn’t there call us back.”.

    I really don’t understand why you would even think of calling this abduction, or giving “words of advice” or a “harbourer’s warning”. I just don’t get it.

    Please, tell us why, why why!!!!!! We are just civvies and we cannot understand it at all. Have you all just gone mad? That’s how it seems — Is that it? Or if not, then what?


  6. Not mad I assure you, in counting rules this could be recorded as abduction. Although some of us, (like me-the mad ones), have said this is ludicrous to record as abduction.


  7. So “counting rules”.

    So there is *no* law which says this is abduction.

    Is that right?


  8. Hello Twining,

    I can see how people struggle to see how this can be recorded as an abduction.

    Abduction is defined as; the illegal carrying or enticing away of a person, esp. by interfering with a relationship, as the taking of a child from its parent.

    But where does the illegality come into this? Is is because Maria, knows that what she is permitting is illegal?

    Or should sec 2 of The Child Abduction Act 1984 just be applied as is

    A person commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, he takes or detains a child under the age of sixteen—
    (a)
    so as to remove him from the lawful control of any person having lawful control of the child; or
    (b)
    so as to keep him out of the lawful control of any person entitled to lawful control of the child.

    But if the child keeps running away of his own volition and ending up at Maria’s house, Does this make her guilty of illegal activity? If a) She was to inform the police that Johnny has turned up at her home again,

    b) If she informed Johnny’s mother that he has turned up again?

    A difficult subject indeed.

    Here is an interesting article from the Church Times written some 3 years ago. http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=46410

    All the best.

    ZZ


  9. Zig zag – S2b is being used to record these as abductions where a person allows someone to stay at their home so as to keep him out of the lawful control of any person entitled to lawful control of the child.

    I agree it’s not right to record as abduction.


  10. It is a little closer than I thought at first sight.

    It is clear that if she is cooperative with the mother and she does not encourage him to abscond (preferably she will encourage him to remain at home), then this is not “so as to keep him out of the lawful control” of his mother.

    His mother is entitled to raise him as she sees fit (assuming she is making reasonable efforts to do so and not lying around drunk and calling the police when he doesn’t turn up to be shouted at).

    But if she is not successful in exercising control (absent efforts to undermine her control) then it may be better in practice if other people had influence over him too. Perhaps the mother and Maria will get along? Maybe you could introduce them and the whole problem might go away by mutual consent?


  11. By allowing him to stay there she keeps him out of lawful control of the mother. That is the interpretation used to record this as abduction, especially if Maria continues to allow Jonny to stay there. She harbours him. Catch 22, but in my opinion it is absurd to record this as abduction. This is the stupidity of NCRS and detection chasing managers!


  12. Twining,

    I can see your dilemma. But surely Maria may well have reasonable excuse? Has she informed you the police or social services of Johnny’s appearance at her property? Or his mother? If she has done any of these things, then I would suggest that no offence has been committed in such circumstances. So if no offence has occurred, why do your bosses insist on it? As a matter of interest has Maria actually been charged with any offences? Or has a prosecution file been sent to the CPS? If so, what have their views been?


  13. By allowing him to stay there she keeps him out of lawful control of the mother. That is the interpretation used to record this as abduction, especially if Maria continues to allow Jonny to stay there. She harbours him. Catch 22, but in my opinion it is absurd to record this as abduction. This is the stupidity of NCRS and detection chasing managers!

    I disagree. She is not keeping him out of mums lawful control. On the face of it, he is free to leave/return to mum at any time. She is not harbouring him – except in the sense that she is providing a place of safety for him, instead of forcing him to wander the streets.

    Instead I would look at mums inability to exercise control over her spawn.



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