Child abduction is poorly defined in the UK. Legislation varies, defining offences of child abduction, kidnapping and child stealing/plagium. Rabun 
reports that 45% of infant abductions occur from healthcare facilities and the remainder occur from homes (40%) and other places (15%). The rise in child abduction in recent years may be related to easier access to hospital units, previously open only to fathers during strict visiting hours 
. Modern, family-centred units allow many visitors, posing further concerns around abduction.
Proactive planning, security and staff training are required to reduce this risk, and a live simulation was utilized to test these elements, identify risks and provide solutions.
A staff member, unknown to the maternity team, was admitted to the ward and gave birth (simulated to a baby girl). Ward staff were informed that there was a restraining order on her partner who was not permitted to visit. An educator from the Clinical Simulation team was tasked with gaining access to the maternity unit, abduct the baby and make their way to a hospital exit and to the car. With the support of Clinical and Governance Midwives, an unannounced live drill was conducted to analyse:
Security of the unitStaff adherence to local policy – proactive planningConflict management and challenge
Observation analysis identified:
Access to the maternal unit was gained through tailgating with no challenge from staff.Access to the mother’s room, despite being in close proximity to the midwives’ station, went unchallenged.Staff did not engage or challenge abductor despite a team member identifying concern.Activation of local policy was slowed due to handover time. Lack of awareness of who has called who.Communications between staff members occurred through non-secure social media applications.Security cameras ineffective due to relay of images to a different locationEscape from the unit made easy by unlocked corridors.Certain staff groups unsure of their role.
Implications for practice:
The identification of latent risks in resources and staffing alongside having confidence with protocols and decision-making has illustrated potential serious risks to both mother and baby. This clinical simulation has allowed us to address and provide recommendations to resolve these by highlighting urgent reassessments of security, proactive planning and staff development to ensure the reality of abduction is minimized.