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MISPER alerts: Force adopts new system

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

By - Cliff Caswell - Police Oracle


Wiltshire Police has become the first force in the country to sign up to a National Crime Agency (NCA) initiative designed to locate missing young people.

Child Rescue Alert - which is run by the NCA's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) Command - allows alerts to be send out through social and digital media as well as using text messaging and other mobile applications.

Wiltshire Police said the revamped tool, which was officially launched by Home Secretary Theresa May earlier in the year and is managed alongside charity Missing People, will bring significant benefits to the existing alert system by using the latest communications tools.

It is designed to assist in locating missing children under 18 years old who are perceived to be in imminent danger of serious harm or death - and where the police hold sufficient information to enable members of public to help find them.

Having taken on the initiative, Wiltshire Police officers and staff with a work mobile phone will automatically receive a text message whenever a Child Rescue Alert is activated. Messages can also be targeted, depending on the location of the incident.   

Members of the public can sign up to receive alerts via www.childrescuealert.org.uk.

'Best opportunity'

Wiltshire Chief Constable Patrick Geenty - who is the national policing lead for missing persons - said the tool provided the "best opportunity" for a successful outcome in the worst of circumstances.

He added: "I feel it is appropriate that we are the first force in the country to show our support to what is an extremely critical tool in locating any missing child whose life is considered to be at serious risk. 

"The reinvigoration of the alert was essential and means that, if it is necessary to activate a Child Rescue Alert in Wiltshire, there is the best opportunity to find that missing child as soon as possible."

'Welcome step'

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: "In the very unlikely event of a child going missing in Wiltshire, I know that everyone would want to play their part to ensure the safe return of the child. 

"The force has for some time had an agreement with the media to broadcast details of a missing child as quickly as possible. With so many of us owning smart phones, it makes perfect sense for the chief constable to sign up to the new alert system."

Johnny Gwynne, NCA Director of CEOP Command, said: "We welcome this step by Wiltshire Police to ensure all of its business phones are set up to receive Child Rescue Alerts."

When a child is abducted, it is vital that as many people as possible are rapidly on the lookout, and the law enforcement community has a central role in raising both awareness and take-up of the tool."