Babies 'at risk from lax hospital security'

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The Independent Online
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SECURITY in many hospitals is so lax that a child-snatcher could walk in and kidnap a new-born baby, an abduction expert warned yesterday.

And a repeat of the Alexandra Griffiths case is just waiting to happen, according to John Raburn Junior, who said risks could be cut by putting electronic tags on youngsters.

Mr Raburn, vice-president of the US-based Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, said he was 'staggered' at the lack of security in maternity units. He claimed hospitals were 'staring law suits in the face' - unless they took immediate action.

In the Griffiths case four years ago, a woman posing as a health visitor snatched one-day-old Alexandra from St Thomas's Hospital, London.

Only last month, a two-day-old baby was taken from his cot while his mother was making a telephone call at the maternity wing of the Royal United Hospital in Bath. He was found four hours later in a house in the city.

Mr Raburn told an international conference on health security in Cambridge that hospitals could help to reduce the risk by not revealing the mother's first name on forms, only allowing babies to be handed over to selected nurses who would be identified with a badge, and placing electronic tags on the babies' ankles.