Child Abduction and Community Safety

Child Abduction & Community Safety Incident – What Could They Look Like in Your Setting?

Annex B of Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023 mentions Child Abduction and Community Safety Incidents as a ‘specific safeguarding issues’ but what do they constitute? This blog looks at examples of both and what you need to be aware of in your setting.  

Introduced into Keeping Children Safe in Education in 2021, Child Abduction and Community safety incident have had their own section in Annex B. But unlike other safeguarding issues, there is not a lot of detail surrounding what these are, what they look like within your setting or what staff need to be aware of. 

What is Child Abduction? 

Child abduction in the United Kingdom refers to the act of taking or sending a child under the age of 16 out of the country without the appropriate consent. 

There are two types of child abduction: 

  • Parental Abduction:  This is the most common type, where a parent takes the child without the consent of the other parent or court.
  • Non-Parental Abduction:  This involves someone other than a parent taking the child, often with harmful intent. 

 Other related actions include:  

  • Wrongful retention:  where a child has been kept in a foreign country following an overseas trip without the appropriate consent.
  • Threat of abduction:  where there is a risk that a child will be taken or sent abroad without the appropriate consent. 

The Child Abduction Act 1984 makes it a criminal offence to take or send a child under 16 out of the UK without the appropriate consent, this includes both parental and non-parental abduction. Appropriate consent depends on the circumstances, but might include the other parent, a guardian, a court order, or the local authority. There were approximately 1,122 child abduction offences recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2022/23, an increase when compared with the previous year. 

What do you need to know in your setting? 

Parental abduction is a difficult area and cannot be dealt within your setting alone. Schools need to follow usual safeguarding procedures and report concerns or incidents to Social Care, whilst parents should be encouraged to seek advice from the Police. 

In order to keep children safe, your setting should have an understanding of who has parental responsibility and ensure that where children are handed over to parents or guardians (primary or special school settings) that this is done so in line with policy. This may include use of password or phone call system when someone different is collecting. 

With older children who travel home independently, we need to remain vigilant. Should we hear of a child travelling abroad or if we know that there is a difficult-parental relationship, we need to keep a closer eye on the situation. Should a member of staff have a concern, this should be dealt with quickly, using the police as an emergency safeguarding contact if needed.  

What constitutes a Community Safety Incident? 

A community safety incident is where someone or something in the vicinity of a school or education setting poses a risk to the children or their families. This could include someone loitering around the school grounds or unknown adults approaching children.  

These incidents can be criminal in nature, involve anti-social behaviour, or even threaten the environment. They could include: 

  • Criminal acts such as drug dealing or possession, vandalism or hate crimes. 
  • Anti-social behaviour including harassment or intimidation, public drunkenness or causing a public nuisance.  

Not all of these situations will pose an immediate danger but should always be risk-assessed, with information shared where appropriate to best keep children safe. The Police or Community Support teams can be called to deal with a situation or disrupt any criminal or anti-social behaviour.  

Why do you need to be aware of these in your setting? 

Designated Safeguarding Leads should ensure all staff remain vigilant for things happening both in and outside of your setting. Ensuring the safety of students and staff is a top priority for schools, and dealing with community safety incidents effectively requires a multi-pronged approach.  

Here are some key steps you can take in your setting: 

  • Proactive Measures: Develop a comprehensive safety plan: This plan should outline procedures for various emergencies and incidents, including criminal or anti-social behaviour. 
  • Foster a positive school climate: Create an open, honest and safe culture in your setting where students feel safe reporting concerns and seeking help.
  • Train staff and students: Provide all staff with training on identifying and responding to safety threats. Educate students about personal safety measures and how to report suspicious activity.
  • Positive communication: Understand how best to share information with children, their families and the community without scaremongering or creating panic.  


By proactively preparing for and effectively responding to community safety incidents, schools can create a safe and secure learning environment for everyone. Through positive and timely information sharing, situations can be dealt with causing minimal impact to staff, students and their families. 

In the case of child abduction, settings need to work closely with parents to build strong relationships, so help can be sought quickly where necessary. As with community safety, vigilance is key and settings need to ‘listen’ out for signs that a child may be at risk.

About the Author

Lucie WelchLucie Welch – Adviser, Services For Education

Lucie Welch has worked in the field of Primary Education for the last 15 years, holding the positions of Assistant Head of School, Designated Safeguarding Lead, Attendance Lead and Designated Teacher for Looked After Children. Through working across several local authorities and within multi-academy trusts, Lucie has garnered a passion for safeguarding and supporting children and young people to enable them to thrive.

At Services For Education, Lucie is an integral part of the Safeguarding team, sharing her expertise with schools, colleges, trusts, and other educational settings across the city of Birmingham and beyond. Dedicated to improving safeguarding practices in an actionable and impactful way, Lucie works closely with settings to provide bespoke training, supports with reflection on their own practices during Safeguarding audits and always strives to contribute to a better learning environment for all children. Through delivery of statutory training for DSLs and Safer Recruitment, Lucie works with colleagues in all age ranges and is a source of expertise within these areas.

Lucie also wears other important hats within the School Support Team. Not only is she dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of students through her role in safeguarding, but she also plays a key part in the PSHE/RSE and Health for Life teams. Additionally, Lucie partners with the Best Practice Network to deliver the Early Career Framework, supporting new teachers in their professional development.


Our expert advisers can provide in-school visits to deliver sessions on any specific safeguarding issues that are relevant to your setting. We also offer consultancy and a detailed safeguarding audit. We will work with you to understand your exact requirements.

Get in touch with us today if you’d like to discuss bespoke Safeguarding training for your school.

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