Hundreds of children involved in bitter custody battles are being abducted and taken abroad

Source: Daily mail

Hundreds of children involved in bitter custody battles are being abducted and taken abroad, a report revealed yesterday.

Immigration and the rising number of families where at least one parent has links to another country are behind a fast-rising number of international disputes.

In 2007 there were 27 children caught up in such cases but this is expected to rise to 240 this year.

65 per cent of children born in London in 2010 have one foreign parent. It is when these couples split that messy custody battles, across different countries can take place

The leap comes despite the introduction by Tony Blair of child passports. Labour said that making every child have its own travel document would stop parents taking children abroad in defiance of court orders.

The figures emerged in a report by Lord Justice Thorpe, chief of the Office of the Head of International Family Justice. The body was set up in 2005 to try to ensure that courts in Britain and abroad work together when one parent flees with a child either from or to Britain.

The Appeal judge said: ‘Sixty-five per cent of children born in London in 2010 had a least one foreign parent. These figures illustrate the potential for significant future growth in international family litigation.’

The report is by Lord Justice Thorpe, who heads up the Office of International Family JusticeThe report is by Lord Justice Thorpe, who heads up the Office of International Family Justice

He added: ‘The tendency of dangerous parents to bolt when social services are exercising legitimate protective powers is all too common.’

In Europe most cases involve children taken to or from Germany and Poland, the report said. It cited one case in which two Polish children were taken from their home and brought to England by their father and uncle.

Within four days of their arrival they were taken into police protection having been found in a makeshift shelter near live train tracks.

The report said communications between English and Polish social workers had broken down, and ‘it was proving difficult to establish who had jurisdiction in the matter, whether the children should be returned to Poland and under what conditions’.

It added: ‘We are seeing a rising number of these types of cases, mostly involving Eastern European countries.’

The report said Lord Justice Thorpe’s organisation tries to act as a ‘help desk for judges and lawyers at home and abroad who have seen their cases stalled and delayed because two countries’ legal systems are involved and when international conventions guaranteeing children’s rights are being flouted by overseas courts’.

Italy and Poland have no judge that British authorities can talk to. The report also complained of difficulties dealing with courts in India, Egypt and Mexico. However it praised swift communications with judges in Germany, Australia, Nigeria and the U.S.

Yesterday’s figures show the main effect of child passports has been to bring in big fees for the Treasury. A child passport costs £49.

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