AN EMERGENCY system has been launched by Cambridgeshire Police to trace kidnapped children. Child Rescue Alert (CRA) was first used in the UK by Sussex Police in November 2000 and was launched by Cambridgeshire Police last week. The system is based on an
AN EMERGENCY system has been launched by Cambridgeshire Police to trace kidnapped children.
Child Rescue Alert (CRA) was first used in the UK by Sussex Police in November 2000 and was launched by Cambridgeshire Police last week.
The system is based on an agreement between police and broadcasters.
The initiative works by interrupting radio and television programmes with immediate news flashes that a youngster has been snatched. The public will then be asked to call 999 if they have any information.
Neil Franklin, press officer for Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: "It is an emergency system that gets the whole media working together. It's all about speed when a child is involved. Statistics show that the first four hours are crucial in child abduction cases. The alert will be cancelled either when a child is found or it has been six hours since the alerts started. Phase two of the system could see it expanding onto websites and text messaging services."
Alerts will contain a description and photograph of the child, details of location, description of the offence, CCTV or a photograph of the offender and details of any vehicle used.
Radio stations including Q103 and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire will broadcast the alert every 15 minutes for four hours. Television stations including the BBC and Anglia will either use a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen directing the public to a page on their news text services or the programme will be interrupted and a newsflash will be shown.
Before a CRA is issued, the case must meet four criteria: a child under the age of 16-years-old is missing, a senior police officer feels that serious harm or death may occur to the child, the child has been kidnapped and the case has sufficient descriptive details of the victim or offender.
Since its launch in 2000, the alert system has been used only once and in that incident the child was found safe and well at a neighbour's house.
The scheme is based on the American concept called Amber Alert which was introduced in Texas after the kidnapping and unsolved murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman in January 1996.
It has also been launched by Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk police forces.
INFORMATION: To find out more visit www.childrescuealert.com