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AMBER Alert Europe’s 5 key points to save the lives of missing children

To improve the protection of endangered missing children in Europe, we suggest the following five key points. These points follow AMBER Alert Europe’s Memorandum on Child Alerting to the European Parliament and the European Commission.

AMBER Alert Europe’s ultimate goal is to improve the protection of endangered missing children in Europe. This is achieved by providing training and coordination to law enforcement and connecting citizens with law enforcement when the police believe the public can help find the child.

AMBER Alert Europe suggests the 5 following key points:

1. A bigger, stronger AMBER Alert network
2. More flexibility in issuing child alerts
3. Better cross-border information sharing
4. Better cross-border police cooperation
5. Border checks on children’s passports

1. A bigger, stronger AMBER Alert network by reinvigorating the 2008 conclusions on Child abduction alerts

AMBER Alert Europe’s ultimate goal is to improve the protection of endangered missing children in Europe and support the recommendation for all member states to have child alert systems that are capable to interoperate with other member states. Currently 14 countries have alert systems in place of which 8 have been used.

CALL FOR ACTION
We are actively working with member states to assist with the development of alerts systems but call on the EU to encourage more member states to develop EU child alerts systems.

2. More flexibility in issuing child alerts

In order to significantly increase the opportunities to save children at risk of immediate serious harm, we would like to amend the criteria for issuing child alerts. The current criteria require a proven abduction or clear elements indicating that it could be a case of abduction. We would like to add the possibility to issue an alert when police specialists have assessed that the child’s life is in imminent danger.

CALL FOR ACTION
We call for amending the current criteria for issuing child alerts by adding the possibility to issue an alert when police specialists have assessed that the child’s life is in imminent danger.

3. Better cross-border information sharing

Every endangered missing child deserves an equal chance of being found as quickly as possible and this must not be inhibited by them crossing borders. Ensuring that information about endangered children is shared across borders is essential. Common borders mean common responsibilities. Following the Schengen agreement and the freedom of information, information on missing children should immediately cross internal EU borders.

CALL FOR ACTION
AMBER Alert Europe calls for protocols to ensure that when a child is at risk in a border area or the police suspect that the child may have crossed the border, the police in the other country are informed immediately. When the police decide to inform the media and public about such a case, media and public at the other side of the border should also be immediately informed.

4. Better cross-border police cooperation

“Criminals work together across borders, why can’t governments do the same?” Sophie in ‘t Veld – Member of European Parliament (ALDE/ D66, Netherlands)

We recognise the requirements of the legal process and organisations such as Interpol but it is essential that when a child’s life is in danger police experts must be able to initiate immediate action. As a first step towards this, we are creating an informal European police expert network, currently consisting of over 20 law enforcement specialists from 8 countries, led by Charlie Hedges, a renowned expert in the field of missing children.

These dedicated roles will form a network of experts throughout Europe, to be the first point of contact in critical cases and to enable the sharing of good practice. We will work with all organisations to ensure that the above does not create overlaps or conflicts.

CALL FOR ACTION
We call for the creation of a formal European network of experts in endangered missing children and child alerts on a national level. The network should be part of the law enforcement response and is to be appointed as such by the relevant authorities in each EU member state. We also call for all organisations, statutory and NGOs to work together for the common purpose of protecting vulnerable children.

5. Border checks on children’s passports

It is important to establish effective cooperation between national police and border guards protecting the outer borders of the EU. Ensuring that the children are crossing the border legitimately is a critical part of this as they may be at serious risk of harm such as trafficking, smuggling and abduction.

CALL FOR ACTION
We call for protocols to ensure that international procedures for entering Article 32 Alerts (Missing Persons) in SIS II, including the automatic insertion and prioritization of endangered missing children are always followed. We also call for passports of all children to be swiped to assist in identifying those at risk of harm.