Abduction attempts in public maternity services are on the rise and occur due to a number of reasons including drug and alcohol abuse, psychological disorders, custodial issues and ransom endeavours. Although they are rare, the physical, emotional and financial implications a successful abduction can have on families, midwives and the hospital they take place in are substantial. As a result, it is essential for public maternity services to adopt an effective abduction prevention strategy.

What makes an effective abduction prevention strategy?

An abduction prevention strategy that includes:

- a comprehensive abduction prevention policy;

frequent abduction drills and;

- daily use of an electronic baby tagging system

are the key measures public maternity services implement to ensure new-borns are protected from the risk of abduction.


What is an abduction prevention policy?

An abduction prevention policy is a principle of actions adopted by hospital maternity services in the United Kingdom, highlighting the procedures a hospital must take following a suspected abduction from a clinical area. The purpose of the policy is to reduce the risk of an abduction, and in the unfortunate event of a successful abduction, ensure measures are in place to recover the new-born safely and promptly.

Safeguarding, risk and security policies all relate to the abduction prevention policy and often identifies key personnel within the hospital who are responsible for the safeguarding of new-borns.

What are abduction drills?

An abduction drill is a practice of the emergency procedures carried out by the midwifery and security team in the unfortunate event of an abduction. As shift patterns between staff change, all employees related to maternity care must be aware of the actions that are needed to ensure a new-born is recovered safely and promptly.

Therefore, frequent abduction drills are recommended so that all existing and new staff members are familiar with the procedures and their individual responsibilities if the event occurs when they are on shift.

Measures taken to prevent abductions arising at the first instance also form part of staff training, such as, if using a baby tagging security system, it is important staff are reminded that access control systems must be used correctly in order to provide the greatest protection against an abduction attempt.


Why do hospitals use a baby tagging system?

Electronic baby tagging security systems use the highest level of patient protection technology and offer the greatest protection against an abduction.

Midwives secure a small baby tag around a new-born’s ankle, and once secured, the tag transmits it's location and security status every second, providing real time intelligence on the new-born’s safety throughout the day. In the event of an abduction attempt, the system sounds a ward-wide alarm, alerts the security team and disables local exit doors so that an abductor cannot leave the premises.

They are recommended by external regulators such as the Care Quality Commission(CQC) and hospitals that use the systems are preferred by the families of new-borns as they contribute to a safer place of birth.



Although abduction attempts are rare, they are on the rise and pose a serious concern for midwives, families and hospitals. A comprehensive abduction prevention strategy that considers an abduction prevention policy, frequent abduction drills and daily use of a baby tagging security system can prevent the risk of an abduction happening entirely, and in the event of an abduction, provides a swift and safe response that ensures the best chance of the new-born being returned to their mother without distress.

Learn more about Xtag Medical's Baby Tagging security systems here.