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Preventive alerts at EU borders to save more missing children now officially adopted

On 28 December 2018, new rules to strengthen the Schengen Information System (SIS) came into force, to help national law enforcement (especially border guards) better monitor who is crossing European borders. AMBER Alert Europe, in cooperation with the Dutch, Slovak and Maltese Presidencies of the Council of the EU, successfully lobbied for the new rules to include so-called “preventive alerts” for children at risk of going missing, in order to better protect children across Europe.

Currently, the SIS enables police and border guards to enter and consult information on wanted or missing persons. Children at risk of abduction or who might be harmed if they go missing are not included. The new SIS rules will change that. By entering preventive alerts for children at risk of going missing into SIS, law enforcement will be able to prevent some of these children from disappearing.

“AMBER Alert Europe has lobbied hard to include preventive alerts in SIS, not only for children at risk of abduction but also for children who might be harmed if they go missing in another manner”, says Frank Hoen, Chairman of AMBER Alert Europe. “We are very pleased that the European Parliament and the EU Ministers have supported our point of view and we look forward to seeing the national police and border guards use the new rules to better protect children across Europe.”

Preventive alerts can better protect children

Children who are vulnerable and at risk when they go missing must be found as soon as possible. If law enforcement must wait to respond until after a child’s location is unknown, it takes more time to start the search. In the meantime, the child can travel a great distance, sometimes crossing borders. If a child is abducted and taken across a border, the search becomes even more difficult. Preventive alerts can locate these children earlier and stop them from crossing borders, helping in a speedy recovery.

The Schengen Information System

The SIS is Europe’s most important information sharing system for security and border management. The SIS provides around 79 million records on persons who do not have the right to enter or stay in the Schengen area, persons wanted for criminal activities, missing persons, and details of lost or stolen objects (for example cars, firearms, boats and identity documents). It also includes data that is needed to locate a person and confirm their identity. Over 30 countries throughout Europe are part of the SIS. In three years, the new SIS rules will be fully operational.