Child Rescue Alert

Since Madeleine's abduction, we have learned a lot about missing children and child exploitation. The scale of the problem is massive and worldwide. Although finding Madeleine will naturally remain our priority, we feel it is our duty to help highlight these problems, as well as areas where legislation can be improved, in order to make the world a little safer for all children.

The ‘Amber Alert’ Program in the USA is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, the transport industry and wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin/announcement in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of such an alert is to instantly galvanise the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child. A similar system has been developed in a few European countries. The ‘Alerte Enlevement’ in France has, like the American ‘Amber Alert’, proven to be very successful. Here are a few figures to emphasise this fact:

  • The Amber Alert in the USA has successfully recovered 443 abducted children since its inception (>90% in the last 7 years)
  • A significant number of abductors release the child they have taken on hearing the Amber Alert activation!
  • The ‘Alerte Enlevement’ in France has been used 8 times since its launch in 2006 - On the first 7 occasions, ALL children have been found alive. (A 3 year old little girl abducted on 20th March 2009 remains missing).

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In light of our family's tragic circumstances and with knowledge of the above, Gerry and I started campaigning for the introduction of a missing child rescue system within all European countries, with cross-border cooperation - essential to its success. Much work had already been done by the European Commission along with Missing Children Europe and many non-governmental agencies. Given the high profile that Madeleine's case had received, we felt our involvement may help expedite the process. In April 2008 we presented a written declaration on ‘Emergency Cooperation in Recovering Missing Children’ to MEP's (members of the European parliament) at the European Parliament in Brussels. Subsequently we, along with many others, (Missing People UK, Catherine Meyer, the ‘Helping to Find Madeleine’ organisation, the Written Declaration sponsors - Edward McMillan Scott, Roberta Angelilli, Glenys Kinnock, Evelyne Gebhardt and Diana Wallis, and many friends and members of the general public) then lobbied MEP's to sign the written declaration. Thankfully over the following few months, 418 signatures were obtained (>50% MEP's) meaning that the declaration was formally adopted as a resolution of the European Parliament. We are very grateful to all those MEP's who signed!

Adoption of the written declaration is only a small step in achieving the ultimate goal of a child rescue system throughout Europe. However, the frustratingly slow and bureaucratic process has undoubtedly been given greater impetus and at the very least, is now higher on the political agenda. Many relevant and progressive meetings have since taken place, with many EU member states subsequently working on developing an ‘Amber Alert’-type system. The hope is that when all member states have their systems operational and policies for cross-border cooperation are established, many abducted children will be found and returned to their families as has been the case in the USA.

We will continue to update this page with regards to developments across Europe as we receive information. Let's hope that the momentum gained thus far can be maintained so that we can start improving our chances of finding abducted children as soon as possible.

April 2009