17th February 2016
A major UK initiative to help detect missing children is being backed by South West MEP Ashley Fox, who said it could also assist the 1 million young people who go missing across Europe each year.
People are being urged to sign up to Child Rescue Alert, the potentially life-saving system that circulates details via phones, apps, social media and business networks immediately police are informed of a high risk child disappearance or abduction. By doing so it increases the chances of the child being found in the vital first few hours after they go missing.
The system is managed by the National Crime Agency, the charity Missing People and the technology company Groupcall and currently 143,000 groups and individuals in the UK are registered. The aim is to increase that to 1 million during the new campaign, which runs from Monday February 15 to the end of the month.
Mr Fox commented: "This is a potentially lifesaving system and the more people who sign up to it the more effective it will be."
"The more individuals, charities and businesses that are involved the better as the wider the network the more likely it will be that high risk missing children can be found quickly and reunited with their family."
Child Rescue Alert is part of the Europe-wide Amber Alert system to tackle the issue of child abduction. Each year one million children go missing or are abducted in Europe and 76 per cent are killed within three hours of the abduction. As well as an expansion of the AMBER Alert scheme, Ashley and fellow MEPs are calling for better cross-border co-operation and tighter checks on children's passports.
"Child rescue Alert's campaign shows Britain is leading the way in helping save children's lives, but it needs more people to get involved directly. People can sign up themselves so that they will be one of the individuals alerted when a child is in danger and they can send on the message to their network of contacts by text and social media."
"Companies, organisations, clubs and schools can all get involved too. The more people signed up, the quicker information can get out, the more children we may save."
The new campaign is supported by Child Rescue Alert ambassadors Coral and Paul Jones, whose five-year-old daughter April was abducted and murdered by a local man while playing near her home in Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, in October 2012.
Mrs Jones said: "We're asking everyone to sign up to Child Rescue Alerts to help ensure no other parents experience the pain we feel as a result of the tragic ending to the search for our daughter April. With your help we can make sure the next time a child is taken or in danger we can bring them home safely."
* You can sign up to receive Child Rescue Alert sms and emails at the website: childrescuealert.org.uk