Every year, up to one million children go missing in Europe. In order to reach zero missing children, AMBER Alert Europe connects law enforcement experts with each other and with the public when a child goes missing. AMBER Alert Europe also empowers children themselves so they know exactly how to stay safe. Frank Hoen, founder of AMBER Alert Europe, elaborates on how AMBER Alert Europe works towards #ZeroMissingKids.
“When it comes to missing children cases the first thing law enforcement should do, is carefully assess whether there is any risk to the missing child. This risk assessment is crucial in order to determine which steps need to be taken to successfully recover the child”, says Hoen.
For instance, police can decide to issue a national AMBER Alert to involve citizens in the search for a missing child. With 37.5 percent of Europeans living near the border, it is essential that these AMBER Alerts can also be shared across the border. Just recently, AMBER Alert Europe disseminated a Dutch AMBER Alert for a 6-month-old baby in Germany, which led to the infant being found safe and sound.
Police cooperation across borders
“When there are indications that a missing child has been taken across the border, communicating and cooperating with police forces from neighbouring countries is key. AMBER Alert Europe’s Police Expert Network on Missing Children, consisting of over 50 law enforcement experts from 17 European countries, makes sure that police experts know exactly who is the single point of contact for missing persons in another country”, Hoen explains. Additionally, the Police Expert Network provides training to law enforcement authorities on how to deal with missing children cases.
Creating and improving AMBER Alert systems
Currently, 20 European countries have an AMBER Alert system in place, allowing them to quickly bring information about a missing child to the attention of the public. AMBER Alert Europe assists countries with creating and improving their national AMBER Alert systems. “Since technology evolves so quickly, it is of the utmost importance that police keep up with the latest technological developments. We are always keen to help”, says Hoen. Previously, AMBER Alert Europe developed national AMBER Alert systems in Malta, Luxembourg and the Slovak Republic.
“We strongly believe prevention is better than cure. That is why we educate children on how to avoid getting lost”, says Hoen. “In cooperation with law enforcement experts, AMBER Alert Europe developed a series of videos with useful tips for children. Parents are also provided with information on how to prevent their child from going missing and, if need be, what to do when their child has gone missing.”
Saving missing children, together
AMBER Alert Europe is not the only one working towards zero missing children in Europe. “Together with us, national law enforcement agencies, governments, social and legal services, and other organisations such as ICMEC, aim for the same goal. Because one missing child really is one too many”, concludes Hoen.