Page last updated at 00:56 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 01:56 UK

Mexico plans anti-kidnap police

By Warren Bull
BBC Americas analyst

Anti-crime demonstration in Mexico City, 30/08
The rising number of kidnappings and killings has provoked a public outcry

The Mexican government has created a specialist police force to tackle the level of kidnapping in the country, among the highest in the world.

The authorities say so far this year more than 650 people have been abducted in Mexico a huge rise on last year.

Mexico's National Security Council says all 31 states and the Federal District will get an extra 11.5m pesos ($1.1m; 580,000) in funding to set up the anti-kidnapping units.

The move was proposed at a security summit last month.

They were responding to mass protests - triggered by the abduction and murder of a 14-year-old boy - which brought 100,000 people on to the streets of the capital last month calling for tougher punishment for serious crime.

Corruption allegations

Violence has escalated in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon came to power in December 2006, despite his deployment of more than 40,000 soldiers to try to curb the power of the drug cartels.

This year alone there have been 3,000 drug-related murders, but kidnappings often receive less media coverage.

Although officials say there have been more than 600 abductions this year, human rights groups point out that up to two thirds of all kidnappings may actually go unreported.

They also accuse corrupt police officers of involvement in the practice.

Among other measures the security council is considering is the creation of high-security prisons for kidnappers, and standardising anti-abduction laws across Mexico.

Mexicans will be hoping that the tougher line on kidnapping, and a related commitment to purge corrupt police officers, will create the safer society their president promised when he was elected.

Crime 'damages' Mexico economy
03 Sep 08 |  Americas
Mexican fury grows at kidnappings
11 Aug 08 |  Americas
Mass anti-crime rallies in Mexico
31 Aug 08 |  Americas

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