Simplification of criminal law: kidnapping, a consultation paper

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The Stationery Office, Sep 28, 2011 - Law - 151 pages
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In this report the Law Commission says the legal definition of kidnap needs to be rewritten to allow prosecutors to deal properly with each offender. It says the existing definition was confusing and ambiguous. Kidnapping is a common law offence - an historic crime developed in the courts, rather than being defined exactly by an Act of Parliament. It covers a huge range of possible offences, from minor domestic incidents to major conspiracies, and can carry a maximum life sentence. But the Law Commission says kidnap is more complex than the popular view that the offence occurs when someone is taken against their will. Prosecutors must also show that there was either fraud or force involved - otherwise they must rely on other offences such as abduction or false imprisonment. This means there is a gap in the law where either a child or a vulnerable adult - such as someone with learning disabilities - was enticed away. Although neither could give consent to being taken away, a perpetrator would escape a charge of kidnap if the police and prosecutors could not show they used force or fraud. In the worst-case scenario, this could mean that someone who kidnapped a child would face a maximum sentence of just seven years. Kidnap could be made more workable by simply showing that the victim had not given their consent to being taken away. The Commission also says reforms could also allow minor cases to be dealt with by magistrates' courts, saving both time and money
 

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Contents

PROBLEMS IN THE LAW OF KIDNAPPING 56
30
REFORMING THE OFFENCES 67
44
QUESTIONS FOR CONSULTATION 93
44
OTHER ABDUCTION OFFENCES 118
49
IMPACT ASSESSMENT 125
56
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