Kate McCann, whose daughter disappeared in 2007 aged three, said
the 116000 missing children phone number was a
Kate McCann (left) meets Holly Valance at a
reception for missing people at Downing
Kate McCann has hailed the launch of two initiatives to help find
She was among guests at a Downing Street reception tonight to
celebrate the introduction of a new Europe-wide hotline
and the relaunch of an official website with information
about Britain's missing and abducted children.
Mrs McCann, whose daughter Madeleine disappeared in Portugal in
2007 aged three, said the 116000 missing children phone
number was a "lifeline" for families like hers.
She said it was a "really positive day" and spoke of a shift in
attitudes among politicians towards the problem
Positive: Kate McCann at Downing St for the
"In the last few years there's been greater awareness and certainly
there's been a greater political will," she said.
"We just need to keep spreading the message. It is a big problem,
and we do need the Government's backing."
The 116000 missing children hotline, which is free, confidential
and available 24 hours a day, is operated by specialist
support groups in 16 European countries, including
France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Holland
Britain's official website to help find missing and
abducted children - www.missingkids.co.uk - has also
been redesigned ahead of International Missing
Children's Day on Friday.
Home Secretary Theresa May hosted the reception in Number 10 for
campaign groups, celebrity supporters and families of
Meeting: Kate McCann (right) talks to the
Duchess of Gloucester (left), Home Secretary
Theresa May (2nd left) and chief executive
of Missing People Martin Houghton-Brown
Also attending was Nicki Durbin, whose 19-year-old son Luke went
missing after a night out with friends in Ipswich,
Suffolk, in May 2006.
She said: "There's been a huge change in the last year, and more
people are aware about all of our missing ones."
Two London cabs sporting advertisements for the newly-relaunched
website were parked outside the front door of Number 10.
Another 300 black cabs will carry appeals for missing children
inside for passengers to read, thanks to an idea by
former taxi driver father Colin Outhwaite, father of ex-EastEnders
The heavily pregnant actress said: "It's an amazing idea. I
couldn't believe no-one had ever thought of it
Launch: Nicki Durbin (left), mother of
missing Luke Durbin and Kate McCann outside
a reception for missing people at Downing
The charity Missing People will operate the 116000 phone line in
Britain, and specialist UK police agency the Child
Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop) will
run the website.
Peter Davies, chief executive of Ceop, said: "Missing children have
always been taken seriously by people.
"I think this is a sign of a refreshed momentum within the police
service, quite possibly within Government, and certainly
within our partners, to get a series of better services
provided to prevent children going missing, to find them
more quickly if they do go missing, and to deal
effectively with their return."
Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of Missing People, added:
"Disappearances such as Madeleine McCann's tragically
demonstrated the need for co-ordination across the world
when a child goes missing.
"116000 is introduced so that people can call when someone
disappears regardless of which EU country they are in."
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said vulnerable missing
children need the best support possible.
"Government has set a clear direction for this with our missing
children and adults strategy, calling on local and
national organisations to prevent, protect and provide
support for missing children and their families," she