Child Rescue Alert is a system designed to alert the public, as quickly as possible, to an abduction or other high risk child disappearance. Statistics show that the initial hours after a child is abducted are crucial, and a sighting by a member of the public can lead to the safe recovery of the child. Child Rescue Alert can be applied anywhere in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland at local, regional or national levels.
An Alert can be sent directly to individuals – for example by text message and email - and reach many more people through broadcast media such as television, social media and digital billboards.
Do systems such as the Child Rescue Alert work?
Since its inception 794 children have been safely recovered due to the American Amber Alert system. In 2014 52 children in USA were safely recovered in circumstances which could be directly attributed to the Amber Alert system. Amber Alert Netherlands reports that the Amber Alert system has been used there on average 4 times per year over the last few years. In 64% of these cases the child was found thanks to tips arising from the AMBER Alert.
When do you use a Child Rescue Alert?
Child Rescue Alert is intended to be activated by the police when particular criteria are met:
Why not use a Child Rescue Alert for every missing child?
When Child Rescue Alert is activated huge numbers of people will very quickly become aware of the endangered child. They need to be motivated sufficiently to keep their eyes open and be prepared to report sightings. We have to ensure that people notice the alerts. This is why there are strict criteria. If alerts are raised too frequently Child Rescue Alert could become ineffective. Many types of publicity appeal are made for other missing children in the UK by police forces, the charity Missing People and through the MissingKids website.
If you have information about a missing child who is NOT the subject of a Child Rescue Alert, please call or text 116 000, or click here.
The National Crime Agency has provided the following answer to this question: One of the risks inherent in the use of any public appeals is that they will be seen or heard by individuals we may prefer not to have that information. All such appeals are risk assessed to consider the issues related to broadcasting the information before deciding whether or not to do so. The only way to guarantee that the information does not reach the wrong people is not to release it at all. However, this would mean that in many cases recovery and safeguarding would be delayed or hindered, resulting in further harm being perpetuated.
The decision to issue a Child Rescue Alert is made by the police, who will determine whether an alert is going to help them to locate that child. This decision will be based on the criteria to issue a Child Rescue Alert (see above) and as with any information put into the public domain for any missing child, will balance any possible risks to the child in publicising their disappearance against the risks faced by the child. In order for a Child Rescue Alert to be issued, the police will have a reasonable belief that the missing child is at imminent risk of harm or death and that involving the local community may help bring the child to safety as quickly as possible.
Child Rescue Alert is the responsibility of the CEOP, a command of the National Crime Agency (NCA). It is managed in partnership with the charity, Missing People, which is responsible for its promotion as well as its operation using a subscription website and underlying alerting software supplied by Groupcall. Other supporting organisations are listed on the Supporters page.
Which other countries use a Child Rescue Alert?
Systems similar to Child Rescue Alert are in operation in USA, Ireland, the Netherlands and Greece amongst others. Our long-term plans are to work towards linking to other EU counties with Alert systems. The interconnection is being progressed by Missing Children Europe, of which Missing People is the UK member. Other supporters of the EU wide approach include Amber Alert Europe.
How do I know a Child Rescue Alert is genuine?
Text messages will come from Child Alert and will include a link to this official website. Emails will come from firstname.lastname@example.org and will also contain a link to this website. There will be no adverts. To avoid these important messages being caught in your spam filter you might like to add email@example.com to the safe senders list of your email system.
Most Child Rescue Alerts will have a local focus. Local media are likely to be the first to receive the alert together with individuals who live in the area. This means that only local people will respond and police can concentrate their resources on these local responses. Some alerts may become nationwide and be carried by the national broadcast media, and, if the police think it will help, it is possible that subscribers will be notified individually.
If you register you will receive alerts to tell you that a child is in danger in your local area. It is so important that these alerts are raised quickly that they can come at any time of day or night although they are more likely to be issued during the day. If you don’t want an alert at night then you can switch off your phone.
Child Rescue Alerts are expected to be raised very infrequently. It is expected that there will be up to 6 each year. Most of these will be issued locally only so you are likely to receive even fewer.
The Child Rescue Alert website will be updated when the child is found and there will be updates on Missing People’s social media networks (Twitter and Facebook). You might also hear about it in news media.
The data you provide is stored in a secure database in the UK. It is used only for the purposes to which you agree when registering. You can remove your data from the database by cancelling your registration.
Will Child Rescue Alert cost me money?
No. It costs nothing to sign up and Alerts cost nothing to reach you.
When we send you a Child Rescue Alert by text message it will contain a link to a specially created page on this website that shows the child’s picture and provides more details. Please note that following the link will use part of your free data allowance, or could incur a cost if you don’t have a data allowance. Note also that, if you could receive a Child Rescue Alert by text message when you are abroad, following the link to the website may also incur roaming charges. Please contact your phone provider for precise costs.
To help the charity Missing People continue to be able to provide Child Rescue Alert for free, please make a donation here.
If the child is the subject of a Child Rescue Alert then immediately contact the telephone number indicated on the Child Rescue Alert itself. This is the fastest way to get the information – which could be vital - to the police.
If the child is NOT the subject of a Child Rescue Alert, please call or text the charity Missing People on 116 000, or click here. All contacts are free and confidential. Alternatively, contact your local police station.
To cancel your registration and have your information removed from the Child Rescue Alert's database, click here.
So that you get alerts specific to your new location you will first need to de-register and then register again from the register button on the website's home page. To cancel your registration, click here. Then click the register button.
How can I help Child Rescue Alert?
There are a number of ways you can help the Child Rescue Alert:
How can my organisation help Child Rescue Alert?
I’ve read about attempted abductions in my local paper. Should I be worried about my child being abducted?
Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. The charity provides services to children and adults who are thinking of running away or going missing, those who have gone missing and the families and friends who are left behind living in limbo.
Now that Child Rescue Alerts will be automated on Facebook, do I still need to sign up to Child Rescue Alert?
Yes. Even though Child Rescue Alerts are now automated on Facebook, the public is still encouraged to sign up to Child Rescue Alert. By signing up to Child Rescue Alert you will receive an SMS and/or email when an alert is launched, as well as an automated alert on Facebook if the child goes missing from or is believed to have travelled to your area. That way, you’ll be an aware of an alert even if you haven’t signed into Facebook.