What is the Child Rescue Alert?
The Child Rescue Alert (CRA) is a tool available to Senior Investigation Officers for use in abduction or kidnap cases involving a child. Its primary objective is to locate the child and bring them to safety by using media to promptly publish details surrounding the child’s disappearance
The public are asked to call 0300 2000 333 if they have any information that may help to locate the child. Only calls about a current CRA should be made to this number. The number is supplied by Cable and Wireless and is only available when a CRA has been activated.
The CRA is compatible with other European Child Alert systems which enable concurrent alerts to be launched across EU country borders.
Background to the Child Rescue Alert
The Child Rescue Alert is based on the ‘AMBER’ alert system which originated in the United States and has been in use since 1997. AMBER stands for ‘America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response’ and was created following the abduction, rape and murder of nine year old Amber Hagerman in 1996. It was later discovered that local law enforcement had information that might have helped to locate Amber Hagerman shortly after she was abducted but had no means of distributing this to the public.
In the United Kingdom, Sussex Police were the first force to introduce a CRA system (in November 2002). The system was subsequently implemented in Surrey, Hampshire and Leicestershire. Since then, there has been a gradual introduction throughout England and Wales and by 2005 every force had their own alert system in place. The CRA was re – launched on International Missing Children’s Day 2010. This marked the development of a nationally co – ordinated system which enables police forces to better work together in providing the most effective response should a Child Rescue Alert be launched.
How are the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre involved?
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre manage the CRA. CEOP offers advice and operational support in conjunction with the UK Missing Persons Bureau, to help investigate and publicise cases where a child has been abducted.
CEOP works with police forces to run an ongoing programme of practice exercises that cover several force areas and European countries to ensure that the CRA system can be managed efficiently.
CEOP and the UK MPB will continue to work in collaboration to ensure the most effective response and support is provided around the CRA.
When would a Child Rescue Alert be launched?
The decision the launch a CRA is an operational one made by a Senior Investigation Officer on the lead force. Not all cases will result in a CRA being launched.
A CRA will only be launched if these specific criteria are met:
CRA is currently under review to determine whether its effectiveness could be improved and the outcomes are likely to be available during the autumn of 2012.
Information for Police
Police officers considereing launching a Child Rescue Alert should consult the ‘CRA Protocol 2010’ for further guidance on how to access 24 hour assistance. All relevant documentation is available on the Missing Person’s Bureau Community on the Police Online Knowledge Area (POLKA) and you will find the ‘police only’ phone number where you can contact an ‘on – call’ advisor 24 hours a day. You can also contact CEOP directly on 0207 238 2320 and speak to a member of the Missing Children Team who can provide you with this information (Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm).