McMillan-Scott: Funding for missing children is step in right direction

Edward McMillan-Scott MEPOn International Missing Children’s Day (25 May), senior Liberal Democrat MEP Edward McMillan-Scott said he will call at a major conference in Brussels next week (30 May) for EU countries tro continue their efforts towards EU missing child mechanisms, including hotlines, an alert system and a research centre into child hazards like that in Washington. This follows a successful plea to MEPs by Kate and Gerry McCann and a resolution by a majority of them authored by McMillan-Scott. Brussels committed 3.6 million Euros in 2012 and will announce further steps shortly.
“As a father and grandfather I can only imagine the nightmare of a missing child, but it happens all too often. Some countries like the USA and France have sophisticated government-run schemes which are effective in recovering children and deterring abduction. Other countries rely on charities, which do good work. But my intention is that the whole EU will soon have properly funded schemes”, said McMillan-Scott, a European Parliament Vice-President and co-founder of its cross-party Child Rights Alliance.

The 116 000 hotline number is now operational in 17 Member States – including the United Kingdom – and the European Commission is providing practical support to those Member States yet to set one up. It has granted €130,000 each to 14 organisations to launch new hotlines or improve existing ones. The Commission has also launched a questionnaire for NGOs and national agencies to find out what obstacles they have experienced in the setting up of missing child mechanisms, similar to studies that have been conducted in Washington by ICMEC.
The EU has also made steps towards a Missing Child Alert, similar to the AMBER Alert in place in the United States and the Alerte Enlevement in France, which McMillan-Scott has long argued for as complementary to hotlines. Both the US and French government-run systems ensure that, once a child has been officially declared as abducted, broadcasters, motorway gantries and social media carry the message. The US system has recovered 584 children since 2003.

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