On June 28th, the national television station in Germany, WDR, aired a news item in which the importance of an AMBER Alert to find missing children is emphasized. Germany, which currently does not have an AMBER Alert system in place, is triggered by the success of AMBER Alert systems in its neighbouring countries.

In Germany, police need permission from a judge to spread information about missing children cases. “When a child goes missing, the police require judicial consent to publicly share information about the missing child”, says Frank Schuelen of the Landeskriminalamt Nordrhein-Westfalen. Once that permission is given, it is crucial that police have the means to act quickly. Research shows that when a child is abducted and killed, in 76% of the cases the child is killed within three hours after the abduction.

Successful in other countries

That AMBER Alert has been successful in neighbouring countries, became apparent in 2014 when a 10-year old Polish girl from Szczecin (PL) was successfully recovered after the Polish police activated an AMBER Alert. Because there were strong indications that the abductor crossed the German border with the child, the Polish Police, the German NGO Initiative Vermisste Kinder and AMBER Alert Europe coordinated the spread of the Polish AMBER Alert in Germany. This led to the recovery of the girl in Friedland, Germany, close to the Polish border.

Missing Persons Conference

On May 25th, German police experts were present at the Missing Persons Conference in The Hague, where the Dutch Minister of Justice and Security announced a European police network for missing children experts, as initiated by AMBER Alert Europe. The conference of the NL Presidency was attended by European law enforcement experts from 25 European countries European Commission, Interpol and NGOs. That same month, 35 German MEPs signed AMBER Alert Europe’s Written Declaration to improve the protection of endangered missing children, which received the support of a vast majority of the European Parliament.