Paying ransoms to kidnappers

March 27, 2012, 10:37 AM GMT+0

63% would pay a ransom for a loved one, yet 51% say paying ransoms to kidnappers is wrong

The majority of Brits say that if one of their relatives had been taken hostage, they would pay a ransom to get them back if they could raise the money, while more than half think it is wrong to pay ransoms to kidnappers. Almost 1 in 5 says they would not pay a ransom, our polls show.

  • 63% would pay a ransom is one of their relatives had been held hostage and they would able to raise the money
  • 18% say no, they would not pay a ransom
  • 20% don’t know whether they would pay a ransom or not
  • 51% say it is wrong to pay ransoms to kidnappers as it will encourage them to take more hostages in the future
  • 29% don’t know whether it is right or wrong to pay ransoms
  • 20% say it is right to pay ransoms and attempt to save lives

Judith Tebbutt, the British woman held hostage by Somali pirates since last year, has recently been released after her kidnappers were paid a generous ransom raised by her son. The paying of ransoms is a controversial issue which MPs have said should not be undertaken as it threatens to do more harm than good.

No ransom payments, no Seafarers?

In response to Ms Tebbutt's release from Somali pirates, former shadow home secretary David Davis has told the Daily Mail that although he sympathised with families and hostages, paying ransoms must always be avoided otherwise it will encourage further kidnappings, stating "It’s about trading a life today against many more lives in the future."

"In these poorer parts of the world, kidnapping is seen almost as a business. Every time you pay up, you provide an incentive for it to continue. The proper reaction from government is to either seek to negotiate release short of paying a ransom, or intervene militarily," he said.

The crackdown on ransom policy has been criticised by campaigning group Save Our Seafarers (SOS) which represents 30 industry organisations. In a letter to Downing Street last week, the group said it was 'deeply concerned' by this policy, and the only way to achieve the safety of seafarers is paying ransoms.

"Stopping the payment of ransoms makes the plight of seafarers even worse than it is already. It means sacrificing seafarers. The consequences of not paying are too terrible to contemplate as Somali pirates vent their frustration," it said. "Will seafarers continue to take ships through the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden if no ransoms can be paid? Or will seafarers and ship owners avoid the area completely, with significant consequences to the cost and the timing of world trade."

See the full survey details and results here (pg 15-16)