In English law, the taking away by force, fraud, or persuasion of a woman or a child against her own will, or against the will of her parents or guardians.
Women and girls There are four offences of abduction of women and girls punishable under the Sexual Offences Act 1956; three are punishable with two years' imprisonment, the fourth, which encompasses the taking away or detaining a woman of any age by force with the intent that she will marry or have unlawful intercourse with the accused or another, is punishable with 14 years' imprisonment.
Children The Child Abduction Act 1984, as amended by the Children Act 1989, created two offences of abduction of children under the age of 16. The first offence may be committed by a person ‘connected with’ the child who takes or sends the child out of the UK ‘without appropriate consent’. A person ‘connected with’ a child is the child's parent; in the case of a child whose parents were not married at the time of birth, a man in respect of whom there are reasonable grounds for believing him to be the father; a guardian; or a custodian. The ‘appropriate consent’ is the consent of each of the child's mother, the child's father if he has parental responsibility for the child, and any guardian or custodian.
The second offence is committed where a person who is not the child's mother or, where the parents were married at the time of birth, the child's father, or guardian, or custodian, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, takes or detains the child.
It is provided that no prosecution shall be instituted for an offence of kidnapping if it was committed (a) against a child under the age of 16, and (b) by a person ‘connected with the child’, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Both offences are punishable, on summary conviction, with six months' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both and, on indictment, by imprisonment for seven years.
Voters The term ‘abduction’ is also applied under the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act 1883 to the action of preventing the free exercise of the franchise of any elector.