Missing Madeleine
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Post  Guest Mon 22 Mar - 12:21

Child Rescue Alert is a system that was launched as a UK initiative to save abducted children from being murdered.

The system seeks the assistance of the public where a child has been abducted and is feared to be in danger. It aims to raise awareness via the media that a child has been taken, so the public look out for the child, the abductor(s) or any vehicle used in the abduction and thereby engage their support.

Television and radio programmes are interrupted with immediate news flashes to ensure public vigilance and to encourage any information to be reported.

Launch of a National Scheme
The Missing Persons Bureau is currently working on the development of a new National Child Rescue Alert that aims to be up and running on 25th May 2010 and coincides with International Missing Children's Day. The system will be co-ordinated by the Bureau and will be compatible with European systems, facilitating a European-wide alert where applicable. Greater Manchester Police has agreed to take the lead role if such an event was to occur.

To advance the thinking behind the UK Child Rescue Alert, the Bureau has been involved in a number of exercises with police forces both nationally and internationally. The exercises have been pivotal in the enhancement of the scheme, highlighting areas which worked well and those in need of development. These exercises are set to continue as more police forces across the UK become involved.

The Child Rescue Alert scheme intends to use the most up-to-date software for call-handling procedures, real time investigation and case management. It is also hoped that in addition to the assistance of the regional and national media channels, we will be able to implement some innovative technology to ensure a much wider coverage such as web and text messaging, bluecasting and motorway signage.

So far this year, Portugal, Spain and the Czech Republic have introduced their versions of child abduction alerts, linking with the European network of alerts. With the importance of international co-ordination realised, the NPIA has joined together with France, the Netherlands and Belgium and have been successful in our bid for funding from the European Commission. The funding for this project will assist with the implementation of the scheme but primarily it will be used to hold international conferences and national training sessions to ensure that police officers have the knowledge to utilise the alert scheme in the most appropriate and effective way possible..

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Post  Guest Mon 22 Mar - 12:22

Child Rescue Alert Activation Criteria
There are four key criteria, all of which must be met before a Child Rescue Alert is issued:

■The child is under the age of 18
■There is reasonable belief that the child has been kidnapped or abducted
■There is reasonable belief that the child is in imminent danger of serious harm or death
■There is sufficient information available to enable the public to assist the police in locating the child
The key decision is whether to launch an alert at all as it is felt that overuse, or 'cry wolf' scenarios will destroy confidence in the system.

Authorisation to issue a Child Rescue Alert is required from a senior police officer. This officer may vary from force to force. The authorising officer will allow for a circulation of an alert to all the media outlets the individual force has agreements with.

Content of a Child Rescue Alert
A Child Rescue Alert may contain some or all of the following information:

■Description of the child
■Scanned photo of the child
■Details of location and nature of the offence
■Description of the offender(s)
■CCTV/photo of the offender(s)
■Details of vehicle used

Radio stations/TV stations (it varies from Force to Force) will broadcast this alert every 15 minutes for four hours. TV stations will use ticker tape style scrolling text at the bottom of the screen, directing the public to a page on their news text services or if it is a local transmission they will interrupt it and show a newsflash.

Members of the public will be encouraged to keep their eyes and ears open for anything that may assist the police in recovering the kidnapped child. If they spot anything they should call the police using the 999 system or the number that will be provided on screen or via the broadcast

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Post  Guest Mon 22 Mar - 12:23

Stages of a Child Rescue Alert

Initial Response:
The decision to issue an alert is generally made as quickly as possible after it has been established whether or not all the criteria have been met. This decision is usually made by the senior investigating officer.

Alert message:
Careful consideration is given to the wording of the alert to ensure that sufficient information is made available and that there is no ambiguity.

Issuing an alert:
The method of passing information to the media is agreed by protocols. The delivery is generally via e-mail from a dedicated Child Rescue Alert Message Switch system. This is normally backed up with a telephone call to ensure message has been received.

Web site:
Photos of abducted children are placed on the Missing Kids website.

Call Handling:
The issue of an alert will cause an increase in the number of calls received by the police force initiating the alert. Therefore in some cases Forces may not use the 999 numbers but may give dedicated numbers to call to keep emergency lines clear. Each force will have protocols to deal with the extra volume of calls.

Police Response:
The initial response will be aimed at quickly verifying whether or not there are grounds for issuing an alert. Consideration is also given to issues like having adequate resources to respond to potential sightings and to interview witnesses.

Alert update:
Any new information will be monitored closely as this might change the context of the alert.

The Child Rescue Alert is based on the AMBER alert system which has been in use in the United States since 1997. AMBER stands for "America's Missing Broadcasting Emergency Response" and was named after nine year old Amber Hagerman who was abducted, raped and murdered in January 1996, although the national programme is dedicated to all children nationwide who've been abducted. After Amber was found dead four days after she went missing it was discovered that local law enforcement had information that might have helped to locate her shortly after she was abducted, but had no means to distribute this information.

The UK's Child Rescue Alert scheme was launched by Sussex Constabulary on 14 November 2002. Surrey and Hampshire quickly followed. Since then there has been a slow introduction throughout England and Wales. The British Transport Police also back the system and assist other forces where necessary.

Further Details
More information on the Child Rescue Alert, the Amber alert and the police response to finding missing and abducted children can be obtained from Missing Persons.

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Post  AnnaEsse Tue 23 Mar - 10:31

That is based on the French system, which requires there to be certain information as described in those articles. An alert would not have been issued in Portugal for Maddie under those guidelines as there wasn't proof of an abduction, no useful description of an abductor and no vehicle description. How useful would the information available have been? Small child was reported to have been last seen in her bed in a holiday apartment, is not there now, please look out for her. ???

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