A rapid response to the vile crime of kidnapping required
The dramatic surge of more than 30pc in kidnappings and related offences in Ireland - according to the latest annualised crime figures - requires a rapid and effective response by the authorities.
Kidnapping is the most vile and odious form of crime, in that it demonstrates a callous disregard for human life and suffering . Moreover, the effects on the victims' families can be profound and long-lasting.
Kidnappings usually involve the families of bank and post office employees with the objective of stealing cash under their control. The modus operandi usually runs thus - kidnap the family, wait overnight and carry out the theft in the morning.
By definition, a 'tiger kidnapping' is one where an innocent person is taken hostage to make a loved one, or an associate of the victim, do something - take cash from a bank safe for example
The term originates from the long period of preparation beforehand, similar to the manner in which a tiger stalks its prey before striking.
The problems presented to the authorities once a kidnap has taken place are complex and many.
While precautionary measures make a kidnap difficult, the possibility of it occurring cannot be eliminated.
Should a person become the victim of a kidnapping the following guidelines are worthy of consideration:
l Do not resist when a kidnap takes place. A criminal gang will have planned the attack carefully and will be adequately prepared to deal swiftly and brutally with any attempt at resistance offered.
l Co-operation on the part of the victim with the abductors after the initial abduction is important. Hindering the kidnappers will lead to increased physical abuse and, moreover, lead to greater vigilance over the victim.
l Stay alert and try to commit to memory all important information such as sounds, smells, captors' characteristics and anything else that could answer the questions: what, when, where and how.
This will also help emotionally to cope with the situation. Also, remember that most captives are released unharmed.
l Leave evidence wherever possible so that it can be proved the victim was held captive at a specific location.
One way is to leave fingerprints on smooth surfaces where possible. Fingers should be run through the hair in order to ensure an oily deposit on them.
l Do not provide information that could be of benefit to the captors and do not speculate on what action a family or employer may do. However, it may be advisable to not let the captors forget that a proof of a victim's well-being is essential in the bargaining process.
l An escape attempt is not recommended unless it is likely the victim is going to be murdered and it appears the chances of a successful escape attempt are reasonably good
l If gardai attack the location where a victim is held the captive should lie down to reduce the possibility of injury.
A kidnapping involves considerable planning on the part of the gangs who do not select a random victim but seek to abduct a particular individual for use to extort money or to achieve another, wise criminal objective.
Moreover, because the location of the crime and the identity of the kidnappers are usually unknown it complicates the garda response.
The recommended strategy to combat kidnappings is prevention.
Although expensive in terms of time, resources and restrictions, personnel regarded as high risk are well advised to implement a professional, preventative strategy.
The effects and trauma of kidnapping on an individual are too horrific to contemplate.
Michael Carty is a retired Garda Chief Superintendent