Child abductions by parents up 10%
The number of British children abducted by parents and taken abroad has risen by 10% over the past year, according to new Foreign Office figures.
Some 161 children were taken to countries that have not signed up to an international treaty designed to ensure the return of minors who are wrongfully removed from the UK.
That was up from 146 in 2009/10 and 105 in 2008/9.
Pakistan, Thailand and India were the most common destinations although there were cases in another 94 countries that are not signatories of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Many of the abductions occur around the school holidays when parents refuse to return children to Britain at the end of a foreign visit. The Foreign Office is working with parenting websites Mumsnet and the Fatherhood Institute to promote a new campaign of awareness of the issue.
Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne said: "We are very concerned that we continue to see an increase in the number of cases of international parental child abduction. The latest figures suggest the problem affects people from all walks of life and not just certain types of families or particular countries.
"Finding a solution can be especially difficult if a child has been taken to a non-Hague country as there are no international systems in place to help you.
"This is why prevention is so important. The FCO will do whatever we can to provide advice and support but our role is limited, not least because we cannot interfere in the laws of another country." .
Sharon Cooke, advice line manager for Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, urged people to look out for "warning signs".
"The most obvious warning sign is a breakdown in a relationship but other signs may include a sudden interest in getting a passport or copy birth certificate for the child; a parent expressing a wish to holiday alone with the child; a change in circumstances such as leaving employment or redundancy' selling a house or giving up tenancy," she said.