AMBER Alert Europe’s definition of a missing child

Any child whose whereabouts is not known will be considered as missing until located, and their well-being or otherwise confirmed.

All cases should be assessed to determine the seriousness and immediacy of risk, which will indicate the response that is required.

For more detailed information on risk assessment see Understanding and Managing Risk in the Context of Missing Persons.

AMBER Alerts

If, after a proper risk assessment, it is believed that the life or health of a missing child is in imminent danger, police can decide to issue a national AMBER Alert.  This allows them to instantly alert the public and make sure everyone is on the lookout for the child.

‘Life or death’ cases

Extensive US research, backed by UK findings, show that when a child is abducted and killed, in 76% of the cases the child was killed within three hours after the abduction. The AMBER Alert system was developed for these special ‘life or death’ cases.

Best interest of the child

In order to significantly increase the opportunities to save children at risk of immediate harm, several European Member States have adopted flexible criteria. In the best interest of the child, countries like the UK, The Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Poland and France have issued child alerts without evidence for a proven abduction, but based on an informed risk assessement.

More flexibility

We call for the possibility to launch an alert when police specialists have assessed that the child’s life is in danger. Below you can find the current criteria as recommended by the European Commission:

1. The victim is a minor (i.e. under 18 years of age);

2. It is a proven abduction, there are clear elements indicating that it could be a case of abduction;

3. The health or the life of the victim is at high risk;

4. Information is available which, once disseminated, will allow the victim to be located;

5. Publication of this information is not expected to add to the risk facing the victim.