The Child Rescue Alert initiative was launched in 2006 by the UK Police National Missing Persons Bureau. The Alert system works by posting immediate newsflashes – sometimes breaking into television or radio programmes if need be – to notify the public that a young person has been abducted and is believed to be at risk of physical harm or even death.
The Alert system is not used often, and the criteria for issuing such a newsflash is quite stringent, as the Bureau does not want the public to become numb to these warnings. Instead, the alerts are saved for cases in which the welfare of the child, and not simply the location of the child, is truly in question.
Criteria for Issuing a Child Rescue Alert
There are four key criteria which must be met before a Child Rescue Alert can be issued. Though the criteria are subjective, a police officer of at least the grade of a superintendent will make the final decision of whether or not information will be released for a newsflash. These key criteria include:
- That the child is believed to be under the age of 18.
- That the child is believed to have been kidnapped or Otherwise Abducted.
- That the child is believed to be at great risk of serious harm or death.
- That there is enough information available that the public may be able to help.
A Child Rescue Alert News Flash
When a Child Rescue Alert is issued, the newsflash will be carried by any radio or television station with which the individual police force has an agreement. The alerts will be transmitted every 15 minutes for a 4 hour period in the hope that a member of the public will recognise something about the case and contact the police. Common information transmitted during an alert includes:
- A description of the child.
- A photograph of the child.
- The location of the believed abduction.
- The nature of the believed abduction.
- A description of the believed abductor.
- A photo or CCTV footage of the believed abductor.
- A description or other details of the vehicle used in the believed abduction.
Child Rescue Alert Success
The Child Rescue Alert is a relatively new initiative in the UK, however, it is based on a system known as the Amber Alert in the United States. The Amber Alert, which has successfully recovered over 300 children since 1996, was launched after the abduction and murder of a young girl named Amber in Texas. While there were no alerts to help young Amber, the Amber Alert has helped bring hundreds of other young children home since. Police forces across the UK are hopeful that similar successes will result in the UK.
Further Information about the Child Rescue Alert
For those interested in obtaining further information about the Child Rescue Alert in the UK, the Police National Missing Persons Bureau has set up a website at www.childrescuealert.com, or the Bureau can be contacted at 01256 602 979. For further information about a particular alert, however, please pay attention to the newsflashes in your area and follow their particular instructions for reporting information on a specific missing child.
The Child Rescue Alert has been hailed as a groundbreaking resource for keeping children safe even after they have been kidnapped or abducted. If an alert is broadcast in your area, please pay attention to the information and report any details that you may have. A child’s life may depend upon it.