Police have unveiled a revamped nationwide alert system aimed at
enlisting the public to help rescue abducted children.
The new network, comparable to the amber alert system in the United
States, will be compatible with other European countries for the first
time. As a result a continent-wide alert could be issued in
circumstances where youngsters may be taken across national borders.
Gerry McCann have campaigned for such a system to be
introduced since their daughter
disappeared in Portugal in
will join other relatives of missing children to mark
the launch in central London, International
Missing Children's Day (IMCD).
head of the National
Police Improvement Agency (NPIA), said the actions of police immediately
after a disappearance are "vital".
He said: "Through Child Rescue Alert the community is able to form a
strong alliance to help in the hunt for child abductors when an alert is
activated. It is fitting that the NPIA should relaunch (the) alert on
Missing Children's Day,
which forms a poignant reminder of
the sense of devastation caused to the parents and families of children
who go missing."
Officials have been working behind the scenes for months to iron out
bureaucratic hurdles to broadcasting sensitive information. They
emphasised how the first hours after an abduction are crucial and that
an alert would spread information more quickly.
Although some 100,000 children are reported
to police each year, senior
officers expect the national alert to be used extremely rarely.
The upgraded child rescue alert system will use new computer software to
handle a deluge of calls from members of the public. Regional and
national television and radio stations will broadcast messages, in some
cases interrupting scheduled programmes. Organisers hope to eventually
use internet and text messaging as well as motorway information signs.
The system is being co-ordinated by the NPIA and any national abduction
alert will be led by Greater Manchester Police. Work on the improved
system began after the NPIA won a share of one million euros (£886,000)
from the European Commission alongside France, Holland and Belgium.
Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic have already introduced their
versions of alerts that link with the European network.
This year, IMCD is highlighting the cases of six missing children:
Chisholm, Andrew Thompson, Telvin Timba, Shawn Timba, Sami
Odeh and Rami Odeh.
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