15/02/2016

Every Second Counts When a Child is Reported Missing

Cleveland Police is supporting a national campaign launched today by charity Missing People, aimed at helping to save the lives of high risk missing children.

Members of the public are being urged to register for free Child Rescue Alerts, activated when a child has gone missing and police believe that their life is in imminent danger.

Similar systems around the world have helped in the search for hundreds of children. Child Rescue Alerts have been issued three times in the UK, most recently in March last year.

Currently, over 315,000 people are registered to receive targeted Child Rescue Alerts, which are issued by the charity Missing People on request of police.

The campaign begins today for two-weeks and charity patron Stephen Fry will appear in a short animation and major outdoor advertising campaign to encourage people to have their eyes and ears on the ground after a child goes missing.

Chief Inspector Paul Haytack, Cleveland Police lead on Child Rescue Alert, said: “Child Rescue Alert is a fantastic tool which could be pivotal in finding a missing child safe and well.

“Thankfully, Child Rescue Alert doesn’t need to be used often, however, the system is for those that need our help most and therefore I’d like to urge as many as people as possible to sign up.

“If a child goes missing it’s important to spread the message as far and wide as possible and Child Rescue Alert could potentially save their life. Every second really does count when a child goes missing.”

Child Rescue Alert is a partnership by the National Crime Agency, Missing People and education technology company Groupcall. It has been available as a national policing tool since 2008 and was enhanced in 2014 to allow the public to get involved thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund. In 2016, the service is being funded by Royal Mail, which has registered the handheld devices of 123,000 postmen and women across the UK to receive alerts.

Missing People charity patron Stephen Fry said: “I am delighted to be the animated face of this campaign. I believe that Child Rescue Alert should be a national institution – something for everyone to find out about and sign up to. It reminds me of a fire extinguisher – everyone should have one ready to use at a moment’s notice but we all hope that we will never need it.”

Jo Youle, Chief Executive of the charity Missing People, said: “Time and again at the charity we see communities rally together when a local child goes missing.

“Child Rescue Alert is thankfully not issued often – it’s for the most vulnerable of children going missing. We are asking everyone to join us and register to be alerted as soon as possible if a child goes missing in their communities.”

Bob Geldof, co-founder of technology company Groupcall, which provides the technology behind Child Rescue Alert, will complete the campaign by honouring companies and individuals involved at an awards ceremony later in February.

Sir Bob said: “It’s a no-brainer. If your child went missing and their life was in immediate danger you would want to get the message out in minutes. If you care about children’s safety please sign up today for free at childrescuealert.org.uk”.

To register text HERO and your postcode to 85080. Registration costs a standard network text message rate. Obtain bill payer’s permission. Customer care 0208 392 4571. Once registered, it is then free to receive Child Rescue Alerts.