May 25, 2012 - International Missing Children’s Day, is a day set aside to commemorate missing children who have been found, to remember those who have been victims of crime, and to continue efforts to find those who are still missing.
Every day, all around the world, children go missing, and unfortunately, some are taken by those they trust the most: parents and family members. It is estimated that at least 8 million children worldwide go missing each year, that is 22,000 a day.
This year special relevancy was given to the European telephone number for missing children, 116 000, one of the first practical measures adopted under the 2006 EU Commission Communication ‘Towards an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child’. A video campaign to raise public awareness of the hotline was launched and supported by each of the 16 Member States that have implemented the 'Dial 116 000: The European hotline for missing children' directive and by several Children related NGOs. Other activities and conferences have taken place around Europe.
European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner said: "The International Day of Missing Children is essential to draw attention to the plight of all missing children and their loved ones. As every year, the European Commission is supporting the International Day to make sure we remember children who have gone missing, today and on every other day of the year. As families and children travel more and more within the European Union, we need phone numbers that are known by everyone and are the same whether you are calling from your home in Austria or your holiday destination in Spain."
She added: "In 2012, the European Commission made €3.6 million [£2.8 million] funding available for the proper set-up and functioning of 116000 hotlines and child abduction alert mechanisms. Despite the funding boost, progress is far too slow: 10 Member States do not yet have an operational 116000 hotline. On 22 May, Vice-President Kroes and I wrote to these Member States to call on them to make the 116 000 hotline operational as soon as possible. This hotline can save lives. Member States should take the matter seriously."
Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda added: "I urge every parent or carer to keep the number 116 000 within reach. 82% of Europeans have never heard of this life-saving 116 initiative. That is a shame that national governments must work with the European Commission to fix, to make Europe a safer place for all children."
Video Directed by Bernardo Camisão, produced by Webbit Films for MCE - Missing Children Europe
116 000 SOS Criança
The Instituto de Apoio à Criança - IAC [Institute of Support to the Child] could be considered as one of the pioneers of the 116000 pan-European effort. In 1998 IAC started a Child Hotline, SOS Criança, as a free, confidential and anonymous service to support children, teenagers and their families in Portugal. The SOS Criança goal is to provide solutions and specialized help, from psychological to juridical support, for children that are at risk, that are mistreated and/or sexually abused, runaways, lost, neglected, injured or otherwise missing children, children marginalized at school, with parental conflicts, that feel rejected and have suicidal tendencies. IAC also provide reports and studies with several information and data on these issues.
On May 24, 2004 the SOS Criança Desaparecida [SOS Missing Child] hotline 1410 was created by IAC in the scope of a protocol with the Ministry of Home Affairs, cooperating with law enforcement and the judicial authorities in the case of missing and/or sexually exploited children.
In September 2007 Portugal was the second European country, after Hungary, to adopt the 1116000 EU directive. IAC was the first Portuguese NGO to handle the 116000 phone calls with the support of mobile and landline operators and judicial authorities.
Since 1988 until today, SOS Criança received 74.500 phone calls, of which 10.719 received a special follow-up. The Psychological Service provided by IAC has supported 985 children and their respective families continuously. 4.747 appeals have been made by e-mail. SOS Criança Desaparecida [SOS Missing Child] responded in total to 357 cases, and IAC's School Mediation to 17.263 students. 3933 cases were revalued to assess the quality of the intervention.
Still, according to the 2011 report, August was the month when most minors [minors are considered legally as such until they are older than 18 years old in Portugal] disappeared, the general secretary of IAC, Manuel Coutinho, explained that concentration of disappearances as "summer adventures". In second place is the month of March, a month that according to IAC has another explanation "It's the time of year when Easter school reports are published. Those disappearances are related with the fear of academic failure".
Of the 39 cases - minus two than in the previous year - 28 situations were solved because the minors either returned home or to the institutions, voluntarily or taken by others. 32 cases were first time runaways and 7 were repeat runaways.
The Judiciary Police numbers do not coincide with those of IAC "because they don't include some types of disappearances, like parental kidnaps", stated IAC's general secretary. The Judiciary Police page shows 6 Portuguese children under 18 who disappeared between the years of 2005 to 2009, two foreign children under 18, one of them disappeared in Portugal in 2007, and information related to 8 Portuguese children or teenagers, who are now adults, who have disappeared between the years of 1987 to 2006.
EU-wide Child Abduction Alert System
Portugal implemented the Child Abduction Alert System in June 29, 2009 [read background info here]. The decision to activate the “Alerta Rapto” [Abduction Alert] belongs to the Attorney General's Office, who is responsible for directing the criminal investigation and the representation of the minors, assisted by the Judiciary Police, who have the responsibility of carrying out the investigation.
Since June 2009 the Judiciary Police and the Public Ministry coordinate the “Alerta Rapto” Cabinet Crisis, but until today the mechanism, which involves Alerts on television, radio and other suitable means, has never been activated in Portugal. Since its implementation no disappearance has had the minimum common criteria for launching a cross-border alert.
European Child Alert Automated System (ECAAS)
In January 2011, with the support of the European Commission through the Daphne Programme, an automated system for child alerts, ECCAS, was launched in order to enable law enforcement in partner countries [Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Portugal] to quickly notify the public when a child goes missing and ask for their assistance.
Other Portuguese NGOs partners to the Child Abduction Alert System and/or 111 6000 Hotline
Portuguese Missing Children Association - APCD [Associação Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas] - provides specialised support to the families of missing children, recently signed a protocol of cooperation with the Portuguese Judiciary Police.
Portuguese Association for Victim Support - APAV [Associação Portuguesa de Apoio à Vítima] - provides specialised support to victims of every type of crime and/or victim's families.
Missing Children Europe
Missing Children Europe is the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children, which represents 28 non-governmental organisations from 19 EU Member States. These 28 NGOs work every day to prevent and fight the sexual exploitation of children and assist parents and investigators confronted with the disappearance of a child.
One of the objectives of Missing Children Europe is to represent its Members before the European Union. As the Schengen area expands and geographical borders fade away, with the increasing importance of the Internet and in a world where travel becomes quicker, easier and cheaper, the problems related to the disappearance and sexual exploitation of children must be dealt with on a European scale for solutions to be effective.
The representative capacity of Missing Children Europe has been recognised by important international institutions, like the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
116000 European Network Project
The 116000 is the European Hotline Number for Missing Children which was created in 2007. The legal framework for 116000 hotline implementation is the Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 7th, 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (the Framework Directive), followed by European Commission Decision 2007/116/EC of February 15th, 2007 on reserving the national numbering range beginning with ‘116’ for harmonised numbers and for harmonised services of social value.
Up to now, the 116000 hotline is operational in 16 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and in the United Kingdom [partially] while the objective is to extend its implementation across Europe.
More information on other 116 numbers.
Other European Numbers
The emergency number throughout EU countries is the 112, following Directive 2002/22/EC – (Universal Service Directive). The EU number 112 was established in 1991, as an additional emergency number to help Europeans travelling abroad in the EU. In most countries, it has yet to replace familiar national numbers and will not displace the traditional 999 in the UK and Ireland. The 112 number can be called free of charge and is reachable from fixed and mobile phones anywhere in the EU.
The 112 number in Portugal is connected to an operational centre managed by the Police, who receive the call and after knowing what type of emergency it is, transfer the call to the right type of organisation - medical emergency services, police, fire brigade, criminal police, etc.
EU Commission Decision on reserving the national numbering range beginning with ‘116’ for harmonised numbers for harmonised services of social value February 15, 2007
Towards an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, Strasbourg July 4, 2006
Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive) March 7, 2002
Studies and Reports from Portuguese Authorities or NGOs
IAC Relatório Estatístico 2011
SOS Criança - Relatório Criança Desaparecida 2009
DGPJ - Sistema de Alerta Rapto de Menores em Portugal - Protocolo
Manual de Segurança Infantil da Associação Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas 2011
Lista oficial de pessoas desaparecidas, incluíndo crianças e adolescentes no site da Polícia Judiciária
Lista de crianças desaparecidas no site da Associação Portuguesa de Crianças Desaparecidas
Studies and Reports from British Authorities or NGOs
Missing Persons: Data and analysis 2010/2011 was produced by the UK Missing Persons Bureau while it was under the NPIA
«All police forces in Britain provided at least a figure for the total number of missing persons incidents recorded in the financial year 2010/11. The figures provided by police forces indicate that overall around 327,000 missing persons incidents were recorded in 2010/11; around 288,000 in England and Wales and around 39,000 in Scotland.
This means that police in Britain recorded almost 900 missing reports every day, or that someone was recorded missing by the police around every 2 minutes.
Some individuals may be reported missing more than once and the data collected from police forces, when adjusted for instances of individuals going missing repeatedly, indicates approximately 216,000 people went missing in 2010/11.
Data from police forces also indicates that 28 police forces in England and Wales recorded at least one unidentified person, body or body part found during 2010/11, with a total of 424 found in England and Wales. The vast majority of these (around 80%) were found in the Metropolitan Police area. The link between missing people and unidentified cases is important as the UK Missing Persons Bureau uses details from both kinds of case to help match unidentified people, bodies and remains to missing person reports.»
Rees, G (2011) Still Running 3 – Early findings from our third national survey of young runaways (London: The Children’s Society)
Home Office (2011) Missing Children and Adults A Cross Government Strategy
UK Missing Persons Bureau | Justice Committee
"It is estimated that approximately 200,000 people were reported missing in Britain in 2009–10 and approximately 2,000 may have been missing for more than a year. As of September 2011, the UK Missing Persons Bureau has approximately 5,500 outstanding missing persons and approximately 1,000 unidentified people, bodies and remains on its database."
Translations of Portuguese Press Articles and Blog posts related to Missing Children
Investigations to missing people never expire January 3, 2012
SOS Criança Report: 41 Children went missing last year August 11, 2011
1100 children and teenagers missing in 2009 January 17, 2010
Never Leave Children Unsupervised September 8, 2009
Algarve children’s refuge hides British shame September 7, 2008
Portuguese Child Alert System in Action June 29, 2009
24 children returned home May 25, 2009
Freedom and Children's Rights April 25, 2009
EU praise for Portuguese resolution in missing children cases February 20, 2009
Children: Portugal is an example for the added value of the European number for missing children February 18, 2009
Missing Children 2007 December 27, 2007
Related to the McCann couple propaganda and their attempt to hijack the EU Child Alert System and the 116000 Hotline Number
Kate McCann hails missing children 'lifeline' as Europe-wide reporting hotline is launched at Downing Street reception in Daily Mail, May 24, 2012
EU Child abduction alert system to be adopted in the UK April 4, 2010
"The 'Maddie Alert' was launched by Kate and Gerry McCann" states Edward McMillan-Scott in his site October 2009
British Media: How lies are spun, grown and perpetuated July 7, 2009
Portuguese Child Alert System in Action June 29, 2009
McCann inspired written declaration on emergency cooperation in recovering missing children to be formally adopted August 28, 2008
Euro Boost for McCann Campaign April 30, 2008
Portuguese police accuse McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell of 'lying through his teeth' in London Evening Standard April 14, 2008
The McCann's in Brussels: The Movie April 11, 2008
McCanns angry over Madeleine leak BBC News, April 11, 2008
'Tapas Seven demanded private jet and 5-star hotels to return to Portugal for Maddie reconstruction,' Portuguese police claim in Daily Mail, April 11, 2008
Parents of Madeleine McCann Ask for EU-Wide Alert System for Abducted Children in Fox News April 10, 2008
El estremecedor relato de los padres de 'Maddie' [Spanish Telecinco exclusive with extracts from the McCann couple statements «Maddie said, 'Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?'» ] April 10, 2008
Written Declaration: Introduction of an EU Child Rescue Alert by Kate and Gerry McCann [power point presentation], April 2008
116000, the single EU hotline number for missing children is NOT a McCann Idea April 9, 2008
McCann abduction hotline idea in Press Association April 9, 2008«The parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann are in the process of setting up a dedicated information hotline that will be available across Europe for when police suspect a child has been abducted.
Kate and Gerry McCann and their team are believed to have already reserved the hotline number - 116 000. It has yet to go live. The couple are visiting Brussels as part of a campaign to bring in a dedicated alert system for abducted children.»
Kate upset after being asked to take part in reconstruction in The Express April 9, 2008
Portuguese detectives to quiz 'Tapas Seven' in London about Maddy's disappearance in Daily Mail, April 9, 2008
PJ arrives for last 'round' in England… and Maddie's parents go to Brussels April 7, 2008
Tenerife 'Maddy sighting' in The Sun April 5, 2008
McCanns call for child alert system in MSN UK News April 4, 2008
Ingleses já sabem tudo sobre missão da PJ em Inglaterra in JN [British already know all about PJ's mission in England], April 4, 2008
McCanns to visit European Parliament next week April 3, 2008
MEP[Edward McMillan-Scott] to meet McCanns over child-snatch alerts in Yorkshire Post March 22, 2008