A criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984; it consists of taking or detaining a child under the age of 16, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, so as to remove the child from or keep him out of the lawful control of any person having lawful control of the child.
The further offence of child abduction by a person connected with the child is committed by taking or being responsible for the sending away of a child out of the UK without the consent of everyone with parental responsibility for that child, unless the court has granted permission to do so. This means that a parent will be committing an offence if he or she removes their child without the permission of the other parent, so long as that other parent has parental responsibility. The exception to this rule is that a parent with a residence order can remove his or her child from the jurisdiction for a period of up to one month (Children Act 1989 s 13(2). An offence will not be committed if the parent who removed the child did so in the belief that the other parent had consented, or would have consented had he or she known of the circumstances. A parent who fears that his or her child may be abducted can apply to the court for a specific issue order and may ask the police to initiate a port alert (see all-ports warning system). The courts have the power to order the return of a child's passport or that a passport be not issued for the child. See also Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.