This consultation provisionally proposed that kidnapping and false imprisonment should be replaced by one or more offences set out in statute. It was provisionally proposed that the offences should be made triable in a magistrates' court as well as in the Crown Court. Consultees disagreed, and on further statistical analysis it appeared that no significant number of kidnapping and false imprisonment cases result in sentences of less than 6 months' imprisonment. It was therefore recommended that these offences remain triable in the Crown Court only, with the existing maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In line with the model favoured by consultees, the creation of two distinct statutory offences to replace the existing common law were recommended: that false imprisonment be replaced with a new statutory offence of unlawful detention (a label which we believe better captures the nature of the offence) and a new statutory kidnapping offence. It was also recommended to increase of the maximum sentences for these offences from 7 to 14 years' imprisonment, in order to avoid undesirable inconsistency between the most serious instances of these offences and kidnapping offences of a comparable level of seriousness and that the offence under section 1 be extended to cover cases of wrongful retention of a child abroad, in breach of the permission given by another parent (or other connected person) or the court. This extension would close the gap in the law highlighted in the case of R (Nicolaou) v Redbridge Magistrates' Court.
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