February 10, 2016
The parents of murdered schoolgirl April Jones travelled to Cardiff to back the ‘Amber Alert’ campaign.
The parents of murdered schoolgirl April Jones have travelled to Cardiff to back a campaign aimed at improving the chances of rescuing abducted children before they are harmed.
Coral and Paul Jones spoke at an event in the Wales Millennium Centre also attended by Wales MEP Kay Swinburne, who leads a cross-party group at the European Parliament which encourages groups and individuals to register with the Amber Alert network.
In the UK the network is known as Child Rescue Alert: it exists to spread details of missing children who are in danger as quickly as possible via mobile phones, apps, social media and business networks, as well as traditional news outlets.
‘Every second counts’
Coral said: “April went missing in 2012 and an alert was sent out then.
“It means a lot to me – they helped me out and I’d like other people to be helped as well.
“Even if it gets one child back home, so one family doesn’t have to go through what we went through, it’s worth it.”
Paul said: “Every second counts in a situation where a child has gone missing – it’s very important that as many people sign up as possible to this scheme.”
Coral is now campaigning for April’s Law, which would increase sentences for those convicted of sex crimes, ensured they were always on a register and that crucial members of the community, including teachers, were made aware when paedophiles moved into an area.
A chilling statistic from the United States has suggested that 76% of abducted children are murdered within three hours of being abducted.
‘The more people sign up, the more effective it’s going to be’
Dr Swinburne said: “Launching the campaign at the European Parliament in May last year was very valuable in that it encouraged different countries to talk together about making their alert systems more compatible with each others.
“But I think it’s important to step up the campaign in Wales, which is why we’re meeting in Cardiff Bay to encourage AMs to spread the word to their constituents.”
Tim Burton, deputy police and crime commissioner for Dyfed-Powys, said: “This is a great initiative, and one that has particular resonance in our police area, which is where April’s family live.
“After the elections in May, it’s something that can be taken forward by all four incoming commissioners in Wales.”
Susanna Drury, director of policy and development for Missing People, one of the partner organisations involved in the project, said: “Our role is to get as many people as possible to sign up for Child Rescue Alert.
“The more people sign up, the more effective it’s going to be, and the more chance we’ve got of finding a child who is in danger.
‘It’s a very quick and efficient system’
“Our other role is actually activating the alerts.
“On the police’s request, or on a request from the National Crime Agency, an alert will be issued by our team within minutes.
“It’s a very quick and efficient system, and we can get the message out either nationally or locally, or anything in between – whatever the police force thinks appropriate for that particular situation.”
At present around 300,000 people have signed up across the UK – and a range of partnerships with organisations like Facebook extends the reach even further.
People and organisations can sign up by visiting www.childrescuealert.org.uk .