A more focused service of support for police and families involved in the search of missing children will be launched next month, in a re-assessment of the roles from the government.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre is taking this new function, which was previously provided by The Missing People Bureau, a branch of the National Policing Improving Agency. The transfer will come into force on July 1st and the agency is already working to tailor a service entirely focused on under aged cases.
“We want to improve what is already working by applying our experience with child exploitation to the search for missing children,” said Alex Nagel, head of Strategy, Policy and Governance of CEOP. “To make it more efficient, we need nationally integrated data for a better understanding of the problem and also partnerships with both the voluntary and private sectors.”
Mr Charlie Hedges, Support Officer of NPIA, said: “We’ve always worked together with CEOP.” Launched in 2006 to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation, CEOP works tracking and bringing offenders to account either directly or in partnership with local and international forces.
Its Chief Executive Officer is also the Association of Chief Police Officer’s lead for Missing Children, which manages the Global Missing Children’s Network, inserting the data of the reports given to the police.
This data is crucial to facilitate the research of the child and is also used for analysis to build up knowledge on the situation and improve the strategy for a quicker action. “When a child disappears, the first hours are crucial: this is why we have to be prepared,” said Mr Nagel.
The centre is currently running educational campaigns to raise awareness of the risks that children face both in the streets and online, helping parents and teachers to recognize vulnerable cases and intervene earlier.
“Of course it’s important to commit most effort and resources in the search for missing children,” said Mr Nagel, “but if we manage to prevent the miss, we can avoid a lot of harm to the child, lower the anguish of the family and also save public money.”