New alert system for missing children

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the charity Missing People are to launch an enhanced Child Rescue Alert (CRA) system to issue alerts at the touch of a button when a child goes missing and is in imminent danger.

May 21, 2014
By Paul Jacques

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the charity Missing People are to launch an enhanced Child Rescue Alert (CRA) system to issue alerts at the touch of a button when a child goes missing and is in imminent danger.

Groupcall Limited, the formal technology and communication partner, will enable alerts to be issued via SMS (short message service), email, social media and broadcast partners. The system will go live on International Missing Children’s Day (May 25), but is already available for the public to sign up to receive alerts via www.childrescuealert.org.uk

It will enable police forces to request the public’s support with an investigation using the very latest technology.

Charlie Hedges, manager of Missing and Abducted Children at the NCA’s CEOP Command, said: “The success of CRA is down to each and every one of us. I’ve already been encouraged by the wide range of organisations which have joined us in partnership to offer their support and help launch this invaluable tool. Now it’s down to the public to sign up for the alerts so we can send the message as widely as possible when a child goes missing.

“With the expertise of the NCA, Missing People and Groupcall joining forces with some of the most powerful and influential organisations, we can ensure that not a single minute is wasted after a child goes missing.”

In the Netherlands more than ten per cent of the entire population receive, or view, such alerts (source: Amber Alert Netherlands). The NCA and Missing People aim to reach one million people with CRA within the first year.

Jo Youle, chief executive of Missing People, said: “Every minute after their disappearance is crucial to bringing a child home safely. CRA will now mean the public and companies can help – and hopefully save these children’s lives.

“This is a fantastic cross-sector approach to safeguard children in the most extreme danger. Via the NCA, police forces across the UK will be able to request the public’s support with an investigation in a safe way, using the very latest technology.”

The project is being funded by a £225,000 award from the People’s Postcode Lottery’s ‘Dream Fund’ and 100,000 euro from an EU programme to set up new child abduction alert mechanisms across Europe. The European Commission initiative aims to have an early warning system for child abductions, with cross-border interoperability, established in all 28 EU countries.

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