Child Rescue Alert is a pioneering scheme which could ultimately save the life of an abducted child.
The aim of Child Rescue Alert is to activate a fast time response to help find an abducted child before they come to any harm. The scheme works by local media agreeing to interrupt television and radio programmes with news flashes alerting the public and asking them to call 0300 2000 333 if they have crucial information.
The scheme is based on Amber Alert, which was introduced in Texas in 1996 following the abduction and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hangerman.
When to launch an alert
There are four key criteria to be met before a Child Rescue Alert is issued:
- A child apparently under the age of 18 is missing.
- There is reasonable belief that the child is in imminent danger of serious harm or death.
- There is a reasonable belief that the child has been kidnapped, abducted or taken under the influence of a third party.
- There is sufficient information available to enable the public to assist the police to locate the child.
Making the decision
The key decision is whether to launch an alert or not. Child abduction is thankfully still quite rare and it is not anticipated that the alert will be used very often. It is also felt that overuse will destroy confidence in the system.
It is acknowledged that the four criteria are all subjective, that is why the authorising officer will be of superintendent rank or above.
Once the Child Rescue Alert has been authorised an alert will be circulated via e-mail to all media outlets, which will contain as much information as possible including:
- Description of the child
- Details of location and nature of the offence
- Description of the offender(s)
- Details of any vehicle used
Radio stations will broadcast the alert every 15 minutes for up to six hours and television stations will use a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen, or if during a local transmission, will interrupt the programme and broadcast a newsflash.
How can you help
Members of the public will be encouraged to keep their eyes and ears open for anything that may help the police in finding the abducted child. If they see anything they should call the police on 0101.