Simplification of Criminal Law: Kidnapping and Related Offences

We have published our report on Kidnapping and Related Offences.

Kidnapping is an offence created by judges in the seventeenth century. The current definition is that kidnapping is an attack on or infringement of personal liberty, consisting of the taking or carrying away of one person by another, by force or fraud, without the consent of the person taken or carried away, and without lawful excuse.

On consultation we provisionally proposed that kidnapping and false imprisonment should be replaced by one or more offences set out in statute.

We raised the following questions for consultation:

  • Should there be one offence or two?
  • If there are to be two offences, should the distinction be between detaining and moving, or between simple and aggravated detention?
  • Should it be a defence that the abductor honestly believed that the victim consented, or should that belief be required to be reasonable?
  • Should the new offence or offences be made triable in a magistrates’ court as well as in the Crown Court?

Responses to the consultation favoured the retention of two distinct offences, but also the removal of the unnecessary overlap between the current law of kidnapping’s force or fraud and lack of consent elements.