A week after his disappearance from a Swiss town, a 12-year-old boy has been found safe at the home of a 35-year-old man in Düsseldorf, Germany. Police in Switzerland and Germany teamed up for the investigation.

Swiss prosecutors said in a statement that the boy had run away from home after meeting the man on the internet while playing an online game. On Saturday, Swiss authorities tipped off their German colleagues that a man in Düsseldorf may be behind the child’s disappearance and a special police unit stormed his apartment on Sunday morning. Police said the boy appeared physically unharmed. The man, a German citizen, was arrested.

Swiss AMBER Alert

Even though Switzerland has an AMBER Alert system in place, the police decided not to activate it. According to the Swiss police, they made this decision because initially there were no indications that the boy was kidnapped or in danger. When more details about the case started trickling in, pictures of the boy had already been circulating in the media, so the police felt activating an alert wasn’t going to make a difference anymore.

Importance cross-border cooperation

This case proves once more the importance of cross-border cooperation between European police forces. In 2014, a 10-year old Polish girl from Szczecin was also successfully recovered as a result of cross-border cooperation between the Polish and German police. First, the Polish Police issued an AMBER Alert (Child Alert) for the girl. 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, 80 kilometers from the Polish border and 500 kilometers from Szczecin.

Improving cross-border cooperation

On May 25th, International Missing Children’s Day, the Dutch Minister of Justice and Security announced a European police network for missing children experts. The network, initiated by AMBER Alert Europe, was announced during a conference of the NL Presidency attended by European law enforcement experts from 25 European countries European Commission, Interpol and NGOs.