POLICE in Cambridgeshire have today (Tuesday) joined forces with officers across the UK to re-launch a scheme designed to save the life of abducted children. The re-launch of the Child Rescue Alert (CRA) coincides with International Missing Children s Da
POLICE in Cambridgeshire have today (Tuesday) joined forces with officers across the UK to re-launch a scheme designed to save the life of abducted children.
The re-launch of the Child Rescue Alert (CRA) coincides with International Missing Children's Day and the scheme seeks to use the public to help locate a missing child.
It fast-tracks police appeals about an abducted child to broadcasters with the aim of increasing awareness. As part of the agreement broadcasters would then run the alert every 15 minutes until the CRA is cancelled.
The alert will usually include a description of the child, a description of the suspected abductor and any vehicle they were seen driving in, along with location details.
CRA has been available to all UK police forces since 2005 and has never been activated in Cambridgeshire. Before this week there was no national coordination of the scheme. In recognition of the seriousness of the issue, the National Policing Improvement Agency's Missing Person's Bureau was asked in 2009 to provide more coordinated support to forces and therefore CRA has been officially re-launched.
The revamped CRA will see the system compatible with other European countries for the first time, allowing for continent-wide appeals to be issued to the media.
Detective Inspector Nick Hunt, who leads on CRA for Cambridgeshire police said: "This is a potentially life-saving initiative based on an agreement between police and media.
"Thankfully the sort of incident that would require a Child Rescue Alert is extremely rare but we have to be prepared. In the event of an abduction, quick media appeals could prove crucial in those all-important first few hours when a child's life is most at risk."
Not all missing child cases will result in a CRA being activated as there is a strict criteria and the decision to launch has to be made by a senior officer.
To activate CRA the child must be under 18 years old, there must be reasonable belief that the child has been kidnapped or abducted, there is reasonable belief that the child is in imminent danger and there is sufficient information available to enable public assistance.
Alerts will always carry the action line number 0300 2000333, where people should call in with information about the disappearance or any sightings.
The CRA is based on the AMBER (America's Missing Broadcasting Emergency Response) alert system, which has been running in America since 1997.
It was named after nine-year-old Amber Hangerman who was abducted, raped and murdered in 1996. After Amber was found dead four days after she went missing it was discovered that local law enforcement had information that might have helped locate her sooner, but had no means to distribute the information.