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Proposals to revamp ‘Kidnap Law’ will see tougher sentencing.

The UK Governments law reform adviser, the Law Commission has suggested removing the requirement of force or fraud in an abduction or kidnap case. Under existing law, it is not enough simply for a victim to be taken away as a number of other conditions need to be met.

Currently a gap exists in law where a perpetrator would escape a charge of kidnap if the prosecutors could not provide evidence that they had used force or fraud.  If the law changes this would mean that a parent who fails to return a child during a custody dispute could face being charged with kidnap, which in turn carries a maximum life sentence.

Currently kidnapping can only be tried in Crown court therefore the Law Commission is seeking to clarify the definition and suggesting that in appropriate cases the offence should be capable of being tried in the Magistrates’ Courts.

Kidnapping of high net worth individuals (HNWs) is the most popular form of kidnapping as ransoms often reach six figure sums.  Many celebrities also suffer threats from kidnapping, which was the case for the Beckham’s.  David and Victoria Beckham increased their personal security after receiving threats to their family’s safety.  The Beckham’s hired a team of bodyguards to escort and protect them day and night, following warnings from police about possible kidnappers targeting high profile children.

Victoria Beckham has been in the press in recent days in the lead up to her book release.  It reveals her full story relating to how deeply her family was affected by a stream of terrifying threats in 2002 to kill them and to kidnap their son Brooklyn.  She admits that it was the death threats of which strained the Beckham family bonds almost to breaking point.

The normal modus operandi of kidnappers is to study their intended target prior to the actual kidnapping over a period of time, to gather intelligence on security procedures and personal habits.  Once a victim has been taken contact is made with a ransom demand.  In areas of South America and Africa many opportunist kidnappings take place against commercial targets working for oil and gas companies in the hope that a ransom will be paid out quickly by their employers.

The threat of kidnapping for ransom is one of the main reasons why HNWs and Celebrities employ specialist Executive Protection security or bodyguards to minimize the threat ever arising.