Increase In Parents Being Stopped By Border Officials On Suspicion Of Child Abduction

600,000 Parents Questioned At Airports, Ferry and Train Terminals

20.05.2014

Britain’s borders officials are clamping down on thousands of parents who are suspected of kidnapping their own children, according to reports.

The Daily Mail reports that latest figures reveal that 600,000 fathers and mothers have been questioned at terminals because the UK’s passport system fails to recognise that their children might have an alternative surname.

Many families are being quizzed by officials at ferry ports, airport terminals and train stations to prove that they are the child’s legal guardian.

Experts expect the situation to only get worse due to the recent social changes that have seen a sharp rise in the number of parents and children who have a different surname from one another.

Cohabiting couples, those who marry and keep their own name and also women who remarry are particularly affected by this issue.

Passport and Immigration staff are trained to screen for child abduction or trafficking and the Home Office advises parents to carry documentation proving their relationship when travelling abroad.

Figures from a recent YouGov survey revealed that 30 per cent of parents with children under the age of 18 said that their child or children do not share a surname with both of their parents.

If a parent is unable to provide an immigration officer with the adequate information about their relationship with the child they are travelling with or unable to provide documentation, they will call the parent with the same name to ensure that the child has permission to travel.

Many parents and legal guardians say it is impractical to carry up to seven documents to prove the relationship and also some parents do not have an amicable relationship with their ex-partners, who might refuse to give permission for their child to leave the country.

A spokesman from the Home Office said they have no plans to alter the system. They continued: “A passport is a document for travel. Its fundamental purpose would change if it were to be used to identify a parental relationship.

“In order to protect children and detect possible cases of trafficking, Border Force officers may ask adults travelling with children about their relationship with the child. We endeavour to do this as quickly and sensitively as possible to ensure there is no delay to journeys.

“Safeguarding the interests of the child is of the utmost importance.”