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An in-depth analysis of the “Manhunt for Imran Safi” case

An in-depth analysis of the "Manhunt for Imran Safi" case

Most people are under the misconception that if a child is kidnapped by a parent then they will be safe due to that parent having natural instincts of protection and love towards their children.


There are so many cases out there that prove that this is wrong, parents beating and murdering their own children in acts of anger and rage, and on some occasions just to spite the other parent.


This BBC Article highlights a current incident that is similar to many cases that I have come across over the years of working in Child Recovery.


This is our analysis of the case.


Original article referenced written by the BBC:


27 August 2020

Manhunt for Imran Safi after 'three sons abducted'

Image copyright: MET POLICE Image caption: Bilal, Mohammed Ebrar and Mohammed Yaseen Safi are said to have been taken from their foster home

“An urgent manhunt is under way for a father who abducted his three sons from their foster home, police have said.


Imran Safi, 26, is said to have threatened a foster carer with a knife in Coulsdon, south London, last Thursday.”

J: In the initial introduction we are told that a knife has been used. This shows us that the man is psychologically prepared to use violence should the abduction go wrong

He is accused of taking Bilal, Mohammed Ebrar and Mohammed Yaseen – aged six, five and three.


An image of Mr Safi has been circulated to all ports and borders amid concerns he may attempt to take the boys abroad. 

J: Images at the borders and ports are a ‘tick in the box’ process for the authorities. It’s a productive method of deterrence to stop a culprit  travelling to the borders, airports or ports, however it only works if it is completed quickly. The time it takes the police to investigate what happened, narrow down a list of suspects, to then receiving the pictures and sending the pictures to all locations which is dependent on each location receiving the emails, mass producing the pictures and then putting the pictures up in all immigration booths and specific locations, then the suspect will already be well on their way. It is a time critical process that is extremely inefficient. In the time that it takes to do this, if the kidnapping was planned correctly, they could have already caught a ferry or a plane. If the kidnapper was already concerned of this happening, then he has most likely planned an exit out of the country via smuggling routes, either in the back of a truck or a small boat across the channel.

All three brothers were playing in the garden while their foster carer was inside the house on Coulsdon Road when they were taken, detectives said

J: The kidnapper has pre-planned this in detail, to the extent that he knew his chances of success were far greater if the children were outside in comparison to having to try to gain entry to the house. This tells us that he has probably conducted his own surveillance to build a pattern of life and found the most vulnerable points that he can commit to his plan. Once he has completed his plan of extraction then he has committed himself to surveillance in order to find the right opportunity to make his move.

The foster carer, who told officers that Safi threatened her with a knife, did not suffer any serious physical injuries but was “understandably distressed”.

J: At the point where the kidnapper has moved into the garden to pick up the children, I believe that the foster carer has seen the incident unfolding through the window and then came out to confront the kidnapper. This is where he has brandished the knife and made threats to use it should she intervene. These could have been threats to the carer or even the children. 

It is understood that the boys were due to be formally adopted, a fact detectives believe could have been a motivation for the abduction

J: There is obviously something in the kidnappers past that has resulted in his children being removed from him and put into foster care in the first place. For them to be adopted, it is believed that they must have been in foster care for some time which gives the kidnapper the time to locate and plan his crime. If he was aware that the children were going to be adopted, then this could have been the instigation to send him over the edge and lose all rational thoughts.

Mr Safi was not thought to have access to the boys’ passports.

J: Many cases that I have worked on shows that not having a passport does not mean that a person cannot abduct their child. Many people have dual nationality. Sometime they will be able to get a re-issue of a passport for either nationality from abroad. Then there is the possibility of creating fake passports. There are many countries around the world where if you pay the right price, you can receive a real passport with your photograph and a new name created by a person working inside a passport office. The cost is fairly reasonable in comparison to the fact that if you go to these lengths then you will be starting a new life and cutting off all aspects to the old one. In failure of having any type of passport, it has been proven time and time again that countries are always open to weaknesses in their borders and it is almost always possible to find a way in and out of a country without being detected.

Image copyright: MET POLICE Image caption: Imran Safi is said to be in possession of a knife, the Met said

Metropolitan Police Commander Jon Savell said the boys had “been in social care services for some while” and their natural family had become aware they were going to be adopted. 

J: Case in point

He added that Mr Safi was not allowed to go to the foster carer’s address and had “taken the law into his own hands” by doing so. 

J: Most likely planned for quite some time.

'Growing concern'

Mr Savell said it was “an absolute priority” to find the three children and more than 100 officers were working to locate them.

J: Over the last 8 years I have seen police dedicate the entirety of their force to a missing persons case. A lot of countries have Amber Alerts in place where towns and cities get locked down and all vehicles leaving get checked. There were 2 boys that went missing from outside of their school in Cyprus and with the reaction of the entire districts’ resources, they were found within 8 hours. Unfortunately, with a missing person, the dedicated number of personnel dedicated to a case often dwindle within 48 hours. Within a week, it is usually a media campaign waiting for someone to make a phone call with information. More often than not, that phone call never comes in. With 100 Police dedicated to the case currently, the chances of physically finding the kidnapper and kids are limited. 100 polices officers in the London Borough is not a lot in the grand scheme of things. If those 100 police are in different boroughs within  the UK, then it is even less likely to make a physical impact and it will primarily be administrational. Unfortunately, due to lack of resources and funding, there is nothing else that the police are able to do. 

“They have been taken from a place of safety and we are growing increasingly concerned about their wellbeing, particularly as we remain in the midst of a global health crisis,” he said.

J: The global health crisis certainly makes it harder to move from country to country, however the illegal routes always remain open and more often than not go un-noticed. Concerns for safety of the children is certainly the priority. Not only is there a risk of violence being used towards the children should they not be compliant, or maybe if  the final goal of the kidnappers’ plan be thwarted, but we need to be concerned of the children’s physical and mental health during this ordeal. Yes, the kidnapper is the children’s father. I cannot stress enough how this fact does not put these children into a safe ordeal. Again, in Cyprus, there was a father of a child holding a knife to the Childs throat when confronted by the police a few years back. The police opened fire and the father was killed, however during the shooting the child received a severe laceration that hospitalised the child. 

“While we do not believe at this time there is any immediate risk to their physical safety, their location, access to accommodation, healthcare, and other provisions is entirely unknown.”

J: Often, the methods used for extraction out of a country are highly dangerous. Shipping Containers and Small boats with no tracking capabilities are typical examples.

“We are concerned about the longer-term impact of this on all three children.

J: Mental Health is a huge factor overall, but I believe this comment is based on the factor of success for the kidnapper. He is believed to have ties in Pakistan and is originally from Afghanistan. I have worked in Afghanistan for 11 years and I have seen many people returning there from the UK. The quality of life is dire and the threat from insurgents is applicable 24/7. The majority of attacks in Afghanistan currently are against Afghanistan Government officials and local nationals. Normal people praying in mosques or at a wedding are typical targets.

“An intense investigation into how this abduction was planned and carried out is being led by detectives in south London, alongside a manhunt being led by specialist detectives within the Met.”


Eight people aged between 17 and 37 have been arrested in connection with the abduction.

J: With the investigation taking place, these people have most likely been pinged on electronic communications (Social Media/ Emails/Calls) for having a previous history, linked to the person in question or for having played a part or knew about what was going to happen

They were all arrested in Croydon and have been bailed to a later date, the Met said.


A red Nissan Qashqai, with the registration PK13 WFO, is thought to have been involved in the abduction.

Image copyright: MET POLICE

Image caption: Police are appealing for any dashcam footage which shows the car believed to be linked to Imran

Police are struggling with this case. 

J: Police will always struggle with a well-planned kidnapping. Parental abductions are usually a lot easier to deal with than the likes of human trafficking or KNR because there is always a trace element that always offers the case a new angle eventually. People are always victims of their own habits and patterns. For victims it is their daily routines, for aggressors it is their weaknesses of needing support from friends or family or even just missing friends and family due to the loneliness and stress that is created when they are on the run from the authorities. 

The usual tactics of CCTV, automatic number plate cameras, and tracking mobile phone usage have not worked. 


The getaway car was found in the area. It is possible the father may have switched vehicles. The first thing they did was to inform airports and sea ports. 

J: A standard that tactic that is implemented in a well-planned case will be to change vehicles at least twice. Once within a 5-minute window, the second outside of the initial county.

Now they are worried an attempt will be made to smuggle the children abroad – a traumatic experience for such young boys

J: Highly likely. If he is in hiding at a safe house in the UK then it is only a matter of time before they will be caught. The end Goal will be to leave the UK permanently.

It may already have happened.

J: If it has been planned correctly then I agree with this.

Image caption: Ch Supt Dave Stringer urged witnesses who knew about the children’s whereabouts to come forward

Mr Safi is an Afghan national and has links to Pakistan but police do not yet know if he has travelled overseas.


Detectives are working closely with national and international agencies to ensure any movement into foreign countries is identified

J: Again, this will be difficult if they have moved out of the country illegally.

Ch Supt Dave Stringer said that the incident would “understandably send a shock” to the local Croydon community.


“We know there are people with detailed knowledge of the whereabouts of these children, and we fully appreciate there may be very good reasons for those individuals not wanting to come forward,” he said. 

J: This could hint to the fact that the kidnapper may be connected with an entity that people may fear. On many cases that we have worked this has been a common factor.

“But right now I would strongly urge them to do the right thing and assist us in locating them.”


Croydon Council declined to comment due to the “active police investigation”

This is a horrific case in the fact that it has happened and the location of the children is still an unknown factor. 
Cases that are not so different from this come across our inboxes here at Pegasus on a regular occurrence. Sometimes there is violence used in an abduction and sometimes parents wake up to find that their partner has disappeared with their children or are not returning from a supposed holiday. 
Pegasus provides the support that is needed during times like this for the family members that are involved. We are able to advise and guide on the processes to take legally. We are also able to initiate an in-depth action plan to locate and recover missing children internationally and at home in the UK. 
If you believe that your children are at risk of a Parental abduction, or if your children have already been abducted, reach out and contact us.

Call us today immediately if you need help on +44 7984 732946 or alternatively, you can email us at and we will respond to you as soon as possible. Do not hesitate, every second counts.

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A taboo subject not spoken about enough

When one thinks of kidnapping the first thing that comes to mind is Liam Neesan in the movie Taken.  Most surprising and sobering realisation is that the majority of these portrayals in cinema have been inspired by real-life events. 


Unfortunately, it is still treated as taboo and not spoken about widely.


The popularity and growth of social media as additional channels to create greater and stronger awareness are ideal to outline the dangers and realities around kidnapping, and should be extensively leveraged.


The more people know about it, the fewer incidents will occur almost daily in some parts of the world, due to heightened awareness.

"Defined as false imprisonment by means of abduction, both of which are separate crimes that when committed simultaneously upon the same person merges as the single crime of kidnapping."


A paradigm shift is required in society to depart from an Us and Them problem, to We are all affected by this form of criminal activities.  Many lives are being altered and destroyed as a result.  The growing numbers in cases are testimony the prevalence of kidnapping and human trafficking across the globe.


Today it might be something that you read or hear about in the news.  The following week it can be a neighbour or a family member who has been affected.  Soon you might be reflected in the statistics as this issue is becoming bigger by the day to ignore and treated as someone else’s’ problem.  IT AFFECTS US ALL; our vigilance will contribute towards the fight to eliminate or at least reduce the number of kidnapping instances from our society.

Kidnapping is part of strategic, highly professional and organised crime syndicates.  These individuals are decidedly experienced, and they focus exclusively on this format of the crime trade.  Like most criminal activities it includes a fusion of men and women in their sophisticated networks to ensure their operations have merchandise (people) to trade and keep going.


Kidnapping is part of strategic, highly professional and organised crime syndicates.  These individuals are decidedly experienced, and they focus exclusively on this format of the crime trade.  Like most criminal activities it includes a fusion of men and women in their sophisticated networks to ensure their operations have merchandise (people) to trade and keep going.

The kidnapping cycle is extremely complex and consists of various components and variables, which need to be unpacked to appreciate its intensity and complexity.


All people are affected directly or indirectly.  More specifically, the family of the person who has been kidnap and disappeared without a trace.  Great levels of anxiety regarding the health, the conditions where the victim is being held, the status of whether the person/s are still alive and their state of mind.


We will elaborate more in our next edition on the victim and their ordeals.


This unlawful detention of people against their will; is no longer something which can be ignored or turned a blind eye. 

As we explore the topic further we will unpack the ransom money, which is normally associated with the act and the country’s leading with the number of cases of kidnapping.  Furthermore, our coverage will also touch on the various different forms and motives behind this criminal act of kidnapping.