The Police Expert Network on Missing Persons (hereinafter PEN-MP) was officially recognised by a body of the Council of the European Union, with the meeting of the Law Enforcement Working Party (hereinafter LEWP) on October 18th. AMBER Alert Europe foundation, the initiator of PEN-MP, states that all European member states supported the formalization of the first and only police network that brings together law enforcement specialists on missing persons, and missing children specifically.

With 37.5 percent of Europeans living near the border, a missing person can easily cross to a neighbouring country. However, the search for missing persons often stagnates at this exact border. To improve the search for missing persons across Europe, it is thus crucial for police forces to communicate and cooperate with their counterparts in other countries. Because of the PEN-MP, police experts know exactly who is the single point of contact for missing persons abroad.

Network of knowledge and expertise

Founded by the AMBER Alert Europe foundation (hereinafter AMBER Alert Europe) as an informal network of police experts, the PEN-MP so far consists of over 50 law enforcement missing person experts from 21 countries[1], most of which are EU Member States. The PEN-MP strives to improve the search for all missing persons but gives special attention to missing children with their vulnerabilities, making it particularly important that there is a speedy response when they go missing. Besides facilitating cross-border cooperation, the PEN-MP also provides specialist support, advice and training to its members.

The first PEN-MP presidency (2018-2020)

In 2018, Colonel Jan Rybár, Head of the Missing Persons Unit of the Czech Police Presidium, was officially appointed as first president of the network; a position he currently holds. The Czech Police Presidium played a crucial role in the formalization of the PEN-MP by presenting the case to the LEWP meeting and by organising several successful international police cooperation events on missing children in cooperation with AMBER Alert Europe.

Strict separation of operational activities

AMBER Alert Europe is primarily responsible for administrative and logistical support of the PEN-MP, including its Public Affairs. The foundation also facilitates the PEN-MP’s expert training sessions and supports, manages and supervises the EU-funded PEN-MP projects. These activities are strictly separated from the operational police activities of the PEN-MP. The exchange of operational police information takes place through the official channels ( such as SIS, SIENA, and INTERPOL), also respecting the EU legal framework plus relevant legislation, directives and regulations relating to privacy and data protection.[2]

Official recognition by Council of the European Union

The PEN-MP was announced in 2016 under the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At its launch, the Dutch Presidency called on every Member State to appoint a national contact for the network. In support of the Dutch initiative, a majority of 465 Members of the European Parliament from all EU Member States signed AMBER Alert Europe’s Written Declaration for better European cooperation on saving the lives of missing children. The PEN-MP is now officially recognised by the Council of the European Union with its formal affiliation to LEWP[3].

[1] the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Switzerland, and Canada.
[2] The exchange of operational information with non-EU countries is done through the Interpol.
[3] The Law Enforcement Working Party (LEWP) is one of the highly specialised working parties and committees, known as the ‘Council preparatory bodies’. LEWP handles work relating to legislative activities as well as cross-border policing and related operational issues.