What is it?
CRA is a partnership between the police, the press and the public. Its aim is to locate abducted children and bring them to safety by using the media to promptly publish details about an abducted child's disappearance.
If the public have information that may help locate the child, they are asked to call 0300 2000 333.
Only calls about a current CRA should be made to this number. The number is donated by Cable and Wireless and is available only when a CRA has been activated.
The CRA system is compatible with other European Child Alert systems, so that concurrent alerts can be launched across EU country borders.
The new nationally co-ordinated Child Rescue Alert was launched on International Missing Children's Day, May 25 2010.
How are we involved?
The Missing Persons Bureau has developed the nationally co-ordinated CRA system. We currently offer advice and operational support, in conjunction with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), to help investigate and publicise cases where a child has been abducted.
We work with police forces to run an ongoing programme of practice exercises that cover several force areas and European countries to ensure that Child Rescue Alerts can be managed efficiently.
The management of the CRA will soon become the responsibility of CEOP. The MPB will continue to work with CEOP to ensure the efficient management of the CRA.
When would we launch an alert?
The decision to launch an alert is an operational one made by the Senior Investigating Officer for the police force concerned. Not all cases will result in a CRA being launched.
There are four criteria which must all be met before a CRA is launched:
Information for Police
Police officers considering issuing a Child Rescue Alert should consult the CRA protocol 2010 for further guidance and information on how to access 24 hour assistance. This, and all relevant documentation, is available from the Missing Persons Bureau community on POLKA 24 hours a day or contact the Bureau during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9-5) on 0845 000 5481 for a copy. You will also find the special police-only phone number on POLKA, where you will be able to speak to an on-call advisor, 24 hours a day.
Background to the Child Rescue Alert
The Child Rescue Alert is based on the AMBER alert system which has been in use in the United States since 1997. AMBER stands for "America's Missing Broadcasting Emergency Response" and was named after nine year old Amber Hagerman who was abducted, raped and murdered in January 1996. It was later discovered that local law enforcement had information that might have helped to locate her shortly after she was abducted, but had no means to distribute this information. The national programme is dedicated to all children nationwide, who have been abducted.
In the United Kingdom, Sussex Police first introduced a Child Rescue Alert system for their force on 14 November 2002. Surrey and Hampshire quickly followed. Since then, there has been a gradual introduction throughout England and Wales and by 2005, every force had their own alert system. The 2010 re-launch of the Child Rescue Alert on International Missing Children's Day marked the development of a nationally co-ordinated system which enables police forces to work together in the most efficient manner in the event of an Alert launch.
The Missing Kids website
Please see the UK Missing Kids website for details of current missing child appeals. The Missing Kids website is used to publicise cases of missing children and the UK site is part of a global network of similar sites. It can be updated by nominated users within police forces, known as Hub Forces. Management of the website will soon be transferred to CEOP, but the Missing Persons Bureau will continue to have involvement in the site. If you require more details about the site, please contact us.