Simplification of Criminal Law: Kidnapping - A Consultation Paper
Consultation Paper 200
- Law Commission
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
In 'Simplification of Criminal Law: Kidnapping - A Consultation Paper (Consultation Paper 200)', the Law Commission says the legal definition of kidnap needs to be rewritten to allow prosecutors to deal properly with each offender as the existing definition is confusing and ambiguous.
Kidnapping is a common law offence - a 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.
The Law Commission finds kidnap to be 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 - is enticed away.
If force or fraud by a perpetrator cannot be proven by prosecutors, in the worst-case scenario, 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 allow minor cases to be dealt with by magistrates' courts, saving both time and money.
|Format||Paperback||Published||28 Sep 2011|
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