Anti-Theft Alarms on Norwegian Babies

Newborn Babies in a Norwegian hospital are to be fitted with anti-theft alarms to avoid identity mix-ups and protect them kidnappings.

Norway has experienced several infant kidnappings in the past and Erik Normann who is head of the Akershus University Hospital near Oslo said “The main reason is that we want to emphasise security”. 

The Akershus hospital have a delivery rate of over 4200 babies each year and has never experienced an infant kidnapping and will be the first in the Scandinavian country to have the new system. The alarms once approved by the hospital board, will come into fruition when they have moved to their new locations later in the year and

The alarm will be set off it the two chips are separated by a certain distance and if anybody attempts to remove the baby’s bracelet the hospital doors will automatically close and lock and the elevators will grind to a halt.

Tight Restrictions in the UK

Here in the UK, the Department of Health introduced guidelines for security in material wards over a decade ago.  Tight restrictions on access 24 hours a day, the use of electronic passes, an intercom system and CCTV Cameras was put into use after a series of high-profile cases when babies were snatched from hospital wards.  At the same time, the suggestion of tagging babies was mentioned but not compulsory.

In 2005 Medway HNS trust was one of the first to install the system of tagging newborn babies where each baby’s position within the ward was monitored on a central control panel.

This has given all new mums reassurance that their babies are safe while in the hospital and though materitity units have previously tried to keep on top with keeping out strangers, there has always been the possibility that a father or member of the family may try to run off with the baby during a domestic dispute.  The fitting of tags has given that extra security needed.

The introduction of baby tagging in the NHS follows the widespread use of the technology for released prisoners and failed asylum-seekers regarded at risk of absconding.

The tags can easily be cleaned while in in use and the bands used to attach the bracelet to the baby’s ankle is disposable.  Giving very little risk of contamination of cross-infection.

One mother who’s baby had been fitted with the tag said “was surprised, "Shops have tags with blue dye to stop people walking out without paying for the goods. It's nice to know that nobody can come in and take your baby out without the security going off," she said.

"She has my name on a tag on one leg and her name and the electronic tag on the other. You don't really notice it. You can change their nappy just the same."

Baby’s Taken from their Mothers

In 1990 Alex Griffiths at just two days was handed to a social worker by her father Geoff.  The ‘nurse’ had been chatting to the parents for 20 minutes before walking away with Alex on the pretext of doing some tests. 

Janet Griffiths, 33 (no relation) was a baby snatcher who was posing as a social worker and walked out of the hospital with the baby in her arms without being stopped or questioned.

New mum Dawn Griffith appeared broken hearted on national television pleading to have her daughter returned.

Baby Alex was found a fortnight later in the Cotswold village of Burford when Janet Griffiths was spotted by a member of the public.  She had taken the baby in an attempt to prevent her married lover from leaving her.

One of the most well known cases of baby snatching was that of baby Abbie Humphries in 1994 when she was taken from the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham fours hours after being born. Julie Kelley who was dressed in a nurse’s uniform took Abbie from her parents saying she needed a hearing test.

Thankfully she was found 15 days later just a mile away from the hospital in the home of a 22 year old Julie Kelley who was suffering from a severe personality disorder and had faked a pregnancy in a bid to keep her boyfriend.

Nine months later, three day old Lydia Owens was snatched by Susan Brooke who pretended to be a visitor in the Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan in Wales.  She was missing for 20 hours before being found. 

Right up until before Abbie Humphries was abducted; parents and visitors were still allowed to wander in and around maternity wards without being challenged. 

Hospitals were urged to step up vigilance and a range of security measurements were put into use, including swipe cards and tagging.  However, most hospitals were still found slow to introduce electronic tagging after it was found they could easily be removed without triggering the alarm.

Since then, technology has advance somewhat and the tagging system is found to be working well. 

In October 2000 a baby boy was snatched from his cot in the Erinville Maternity Hospital in Cork, Ireland but thankfully the security tag on his wrist triggered an alarm and security personnel were alerted.

New mums can nowadays rest with the assurance of the latest security and strict timings of visiting times that their baby is being looked after both by herself and the nurses.