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MEPs call for EU-wide child alert system

July 10, 2008 4:00 PM

Local LibDem Euro-MP Liz Lynne has welcomed the European Parliament's call for an EU-wide child alert system, similar to the 'Amber Alert' system in the United States.

Earlier this year Liz signed a Written Declaration (similar to an Early Day Motion at Westminster) calling for such a system. Now it has been signed by a majority of MEPs it has been formally adopted and the European Commission and Council of Ministers will be asked to act on it.

Speaking today, Liz Lynne said:

"There is no doubt that a EU equivalent of the US 'Amber Alert' system would save children's lives if it were introduced. The speed in which a single dedicated control centre could get the message out to different branches of the Police, TV and radio and roadside electronic billboards would help rescue many children within the crucial first 72 hours.

"Mostly alarm systems would work at local or national level, but the coordination of these at EU-level when necessary is crucial. Increased cross-border cooperation and a single dedicated European phone number could bridge the vital gap sometimes needed. We must act on this as soon as possible."

ENDS

Earlier this year Liz Lynne signed a Written Declaration in the European Parliament which calls on the countries in the European Union to set-up a version of the US "Amber Alert" system. The Written Declaration was launched in April and today, Thursday 10 July 2008, reached the required number of signatures for it to be presented to the European Commission and the Council of Ministers requesting action be taken.

Evidence indicates that such a system has proven to be extremely successful and worthwhile on a national basis in both the USA and France. 393 children have been recovered alive in the USA since its inception (90% in last 5 years); 68 children recovered directly as a result of the Amber Alert system in 2007; 'Alerte Enlevement' in France introduced in 2006- used 5 times- all the children have been recovered alive.

Text of Written Declaration 36/2008 as adopted:

The European Parliament, having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the abduction of a child is amongst the most inhumane of crimes,

B. whereas the commission of such crimes is increasing in Europe and may involve transporting victims across state borders,

C. whereas the prospects of saving the life of an abducted child decrease as time passes,

D. whereas there is no Europe-wide alert system for child disappearances nor any local or national systems throughout much of the European Union,

1. Calls on Member States to introduce a missing child alert system, the activation of which would require the immediate forwarding to the relevant news media, border authorities and customs and law enforcement agencies of details of:

  • the missing child, with a photograph if available
  • information relevant to the disappearance and/or the suspected abductor(s)
  • a telephone number to call with information (116 000 where operational);

2. Calls on the Member States to reach cooperation agreements with all bordering states to ensure the capacity to raise an alert rapidly across any relevant territories;

3. Calls for the development of a common organisation to provide assistance and training to national bodies;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Commission and the Council.