Metropolitan Police
Gloucestershire Police say there was no criminal intent in the Cheltenham family's actionsGetty Images

A family who staged a fake abduction of a 12-year-old boy in Cheltenham have been referred to social services by police. Witnesses called emergency services after two adults bundled the youngster into the boot of a vehicle before driving away at Caernarvon Road at around 9am BST on 25 April.

Gloucestershire Police spent two hours investigating the incident before locating the boy and his "apologetic" family, according to the Daily Mirror. "Given the seriousness of the incident there was a large scale police response, with officers conducting extensive inquiries over the following two hours to establish what had happened," a police spokesman was quoted as saying.

"The boy and his family confirmed the incident was a prank carried out by family members. The boy had been in the boot for a few minutes while the car was driven home and the family were extremely apologetic. The boy told police he knew it was a prank very early on."

'Dangerous actions'

Gloucestershire Police said they would not be charging the family as they were satisfied there was no criminal intent involved. But they were referred to the council's social care team.

"While we were satisfied there was no criminal intent and won't be taking any police action, due to the inappropriate and potentially dangerous nature of their actions we have referred the family to Gloucestershire County Council's social care team," the spokesman said.

He added: "The public is reminded that what might be a bit of fun between friends and family can seem very real to people witnessing it. It not only causes the witness distress, but could put others who need the assistance of the police in danger. Please think about what your actions look like to others whilst in public."

Shocked eyewitnesses described seeing two adults putting the boy into the boot of an MPV before speeding off in broad daylight.