From March, all new British passports will be issued with an ‘important information’ leaflet that provides essential guidance on protecting your passport from the threat of traffickers and the vital steps to take if you believe a child is at risk of being abducted and taken overseas.
The leaflets carry a clear warning that taking a child under the age of 16 out of the country without appropriate consent is a criminal offence. It also urges anyone who believes their children may be at risk of being taken out of the UK illegally to contact the police or the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit.
The leaflet also provides information for anyone who is concerned they are a victim or may be at risk of slavery and human trafficking, detailing advice and contacts for organisations that can help them.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
This initiative will not only raise awareness but also send a clear message that it is a criminal offence to take a child out of the country without appropriate consent. We also want to raise public understanding of the appalling crime of modern slavery and ensure that anyone who has been forced to surrender their passport knows where to turn.
We take the security of the British passport extremely seriously and it is essential that people take every necessary precaution to ensure their passport does not end up in the wrong hands.
The new initiative, in partnership with PACT, is designed to help tackle the number of reported incidents of international parental child abduction which have doubled in the last ten years and reinforce the government’s commitment to eradicate the scourge of modern slavery.
Lady Catherine Meyer CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of PACT, said:
This is something we have been working for over many years. It is a major step towards stamping out parental child abduction. It will serve as a deterrent to any parent contemplating taking their child abroad without appropriate consent.
It will also raise awareness of a fast growing problem. With so much progress being made in other areas of child welfare, it is truly shocking that the number of international parental abduction is growing so fast. This initiative will help turn the tide.
An ‘Important Information’ leaflet is provided to all customers alongside their newly issued passport. This leaflet also offers customers information relating to their passport, and advice about what to do in certain circumstances, for example if their passport is lost.