On International Missing Children’s Day, Brussels has been urging European countries to develop alert systems for use when a child goes missing.
France is ahead of the pack. There, within thirty minutes of a confirmed abduction, the information is flashed to electronic signs on the nation’s roads.
Although the UK has now introduced a multi-media pilot plan, progress in other areas has been slower, such as with a common telephone hotline number, 116000; it is working in fewer than half the EU states. Francis Jacobs with Missing Children Europe, siad this is clearly not enough:
“We now have reach the total of 11 countries where the number is operational. But of course, we have to implement that to all the 27 member States of the European Union. And indeed, we would like to extend it beyond the European Union, to countries like Switzerland for example. We know that from unfortunate experiences that it is the first hours which are often absolutely crucial to finding a child. If there is a threat to the child’s life, the threat is usual in the the first hours after disappearance. So the first thing is, of course, to contact the emergency services and to contact the hotline.”
The AMBER Alert Programme in the US has also won support from some European Parliament members. It involves voluntary cooperation among police forces, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless phone services.
Hundreds of children are reported missing across the EU every day. Police authorities agree that early intervention is vital.