‘Amber Alert’: Bulgaria to implement child abduction alert system

Written by on January 30, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on ‘Amber Alert’: Bulgaria to implement child abduction alert system

Bulgaria is the 18th EU country to use Amber Alert, a child abduction alert system developed in the United States, the Ministry of the Interior in Sofia announced. In the US, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Malaysia and some European countries, Amber Alert has helped the authorities to locate and save hundreds of children who were abducted.

Amber Alert was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered in Texas in 1996. In the US, the system is connected to radio and TV stations, commercial electronic billboards and social media. There is also an e-mail system, which automatically sends out messages to registered people in the area in which a child went missing.

In Europe, Amber Alert connects NGOs, law enforcement agencies and ministries. It is supposed to trigger searches for missing children in all of the European Union. But so far only 18 out of 28 EU countries have implemented the system. Apart from Bulgaria, they are Belgium, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.

Technically, the European version of Amber Alert is based on the Dutch model, which was introduced in 2008. It triggers an alert when a child is missing, when it was likely abducted by an unknown person, and when the child’s life is in danger. Also, alerts are only being triggered in cases in which there is enough information about the victim and the kidnapper, the publication of which would increase the chances of finding the child.

In Bulgaria, Amber Alert will largely be based on Facebook. Here, the information can be spread very quickly and effectively, the authorities believe.

In the US, Amber Alert is also known as “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response”. Those who run the system claim that hundreds of children’s lives were saved, thanks to Amber Alert. While this claim is not being disputed, critics say Amber Alert in North America mainly saved children abducted by parents without legal custody for the child, and was not able to save many kids kidnapped by unknown individuals.

Still the European authorities are hoping to be able to use Amber Alert to save many children. The non-profit organisation behind the name Amber Alert Europe is also waiting for the remaining 10 EU countries to join the alert system. That way, it would be even more effective, since Europe-wide searches could be triggered.

Photo: Symbolic.



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