Kidnappings in the region increase by more than 70 per cent
The number of kidnappings in Greater Manchester has risen by more than 70 per cent in a year. Latest Home Office figures show there were 579 such crimes recorded in 2021 - a massive 73 per cent increase on the 334 for 2020 and the highest number in the last decade. In March this year, Manchester Crown Court heard how a gang used the home of a drug addict mum to torture and imprison a man for 12 hours after kidnapping him on the street.
The victim was taken from outside his house in Blackley, north Manchester, then bundled into a car before taken to the house. During a horrifying ordeal he was bound and gagged, had boiling water poured over his genitals and was forced to swallow tablets which he was told contained rat poison. He was warned that he'd be 'gravely injured, if not killed' if he didn't hand over a large amount of cash.
He was eventually able to escape from the property having suffered serious injuries, including burns. READ MORE: Kidnapping victim had boiling water poured on his genitals and was forced to swallow 'rat poison' during 12-hour ordeal In 2021, there were 69 child abductions recorded in Greater Manchester.
That compares to 57 in 2020 and 68 before the pandemic in 2019. In May two people were each jailed for two years after abducting a 12-year-old child in a school uniform from outside Wigan North Western railway station. The pair threw a blanket over the victim's head then drove her 120 miles to a campsite in North Wales.
Police rang during the drive and the child screamed but one of her captors put a hand over their mouth, gave officers a false names, and lied that she was camping in Ireland. Detectives tracked the phone to Fferm Cedris Farm Campsite in Abergynolwyn, North Wales. One of the kidnappers had pitched a tent and was staying in it with the child in separate sleeping bags.
The disturbing increase in kidnappings comes as a fictional kidnap plot has featured in TV's Coronation Street. Fans of the show have recently been following the troubles of Kelly Neelan - played by Millie Gibson - who was abducted by her criminal dad's old acquaintances and held in a dark cellar in a bid to get a GBP50,000 ransom. Kidnapping is defined as taking someone away by force or fraud and then keeping them illegally imprisoned without their consent.
It can include adult and child victims. It might involve enticing a partner to a house and refusing to let them leave, a parent taking and keeping a child without the consent of their legal guardian, or the planned kidnap of someone for ransom or political purposes. The National Crime Agency says kidnapping includes other offences in the same category, which "involve restricting or controlling someone's movement", such as false imprisonment, some modern slavery and exploitation offences, and some human trafficking offences.
The NCA says some of these offences are relatively new, which may explain the rise over the last few years. It says its Anti Kidnap and Extortion Unit receives an average of around 500 reports of planned kidnappings for ransom each year. Kidnapping does not include child abduction, however, which is a separate offence defined as taking a child away from a person or place they should lawfully be with.
That might include someone who is unconnected to the child detaining them without due authority, or a parent or guardian taking a child out of the UK without the consent of another parent or guardian. Across all police forces in England and Wales, there were a total of 6,756 kidnappings recorded last year, up by 20% from 5,618 kidnappings in 2020. That is also the highest seen in the last decade and more than quadruple the 1,525 recorded in 2011.
One of the most horrific examples of kidnapping in recent times is Joseph McCann, a convicted burglar, originally from Manchester, who was freed after a probation service error at the start of 2019. Over 15 days in the Spring of that year he abducted, raped and assaulted victims aged between 11 and 71 in Watford, London, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire.Joseph McCann, formerly of Beswick, Manchester, given 33 life sentences. (Image: PA)
He was found guilty of 37 charges, including kidnap and false imprisonment. McCann, who lived in Beswick, east Manchester, as a boy and was given one of Manchester's first Anti-Social Behaviour Orders aged just 14, was branded a 'classic psychopath' by a judge who handed him 33 life sentences in December last year.
But perhaps the most famous UK kidnapping case in the 21st century is that of Shannon Matthews, who was reported missing in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire in 2008 at the age of nine. In fact, Shannon's kidnapping had been faked by her mum, Karen Matthews, and Michael Donovan, the uncle of Matthews' boyfriend. Shannon was found unharmed but sedated at Donovan's home after a 24-day search.
Donovan told police he and Matthews had planned the abduction to claim reward money. Matthews and Donovan were found guilty of false imprisonment, kidnap and perverting the course of justice and sentenced to eight years. Meanwhile, there were also 998 child abductions in 2021, a slight rise from 983 the previous year, but a 13% fall from 1,145 before the pandemic in 2019.
Greater Manchester Police were asked for a comment on the increase in kidnappings and child abductions in the region.