York 10 year old kidnapped in Turkey
4:40pm 28th October 2010
(Updated 2:13pm 2nd November 2010)
Detectives who secured the return to the UK of a girl abducted by her father are reassuring North Yorkshire residents that they can and will help victims of crime abroad.
It is a common misconception that police are powerless to help when confronted with an offence that occurred in another country. However, a recent case has highlighted the fact that North Yorkshire Police and their partners will go to great lengths to assist.
On Wednesday 8th September 2010 a 31 year old woman from York attended Fulford Road Police Station to report that her 10 year old daughter had been abducted by her estranged husband during a visit to Turkey.
The woman, who is a Turkish National but now lives in York City Centre, had taken her daughter and her eight-year-old brother to visit their grandparents on 27th July 2010.
During the trip, the children’s father, who is separated from their mother, forcefully took both children and their passports.
A few days later, the boy managed to run away and was reunited with his mother, who has parental responsibility for both children. However, her daughter remained with her father.
Despite contacting the police in Turkey and a local judge, the woman was forced to return to York without her daughter. The Turkish authorities would not intervene as the child was with her natural father; despite the fact he had used extreme force to take her from her mother.
After failing to persuade her estranged husband to give her daughter back and giving up hope on receiving any assistance from the Turkish police, the woman sought help from the authorities back in York.
City of York Council’s education department and Esme Madill, a volunteer from the charity Refugee Action York (RAY), agreed to help and made provisions for the boy to return to England without his passport.
Esme also contacted solicitors to try and legally reunite mother and daughter through the Hague Convention (a civil legal mechanism available to parents seeking the return of a child who is wrongfully held in another country.)
After the matter was reported to North Yorkshire Police, detectives conducted an investigation into what had occurred.
They quickly realised that an application through the Hague Convention may take some time and officers felt the matter could be resolved more promptly if they took action themselves.
Frustrated by the fact that they had no jurisdiction in Turkey and not knowing where the father and daughter were, officers managed to obtain a phone number for the father and eventually persuaded him to bring the girl home.
Although police had no power to arrest the father on his return to the UK, he was served with numerous County Court orders when he arrived at Manchester Airport on Sunday 10th October. The injunctions instructed him to hand his daughter back to his estranged wife and also prevent him from approaching the family or their home.
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Costello, of York CID, said:
“I hope that by highlighting this case, others within our community who believe that the police or other agencies would be powerless in circumstances like these can draw some reassurance from our efforts.
“This case emphasises how partnership working can overcome problems that seem impossible from the outset. The police, the local authority and Refugee Action York have worked tirelessly and displayed great commitment since being notified of this woman’s plight.”
DCI Costello explained that cases such as these are often extremely protracted due to the lack of jurisdiction that the police are faced with. However, this case was concluded relatively quickly and the family are delighted to be reunited in York.
DCI Costello added:
“Thankfully this case had a happy and swift conclusion. When we spoke to the girl over the phone she expressed her wish to return to her mum and brother and to see her friends at school.
“There is no evidence that she was mistreated by her father, however she is now rightly back with her family and we are providing them with the assistance they need to recover from their ordeal.”
Anyone who is faced with similar circumstances can contact North Yorkshire Police on 0845 60 60 24 7.
Alternatively, Refugee Action York can be contacted by email at info@refugeeactionyork.
PICTURE: Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Costello
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