Facebook users in our local communities are to receive alerts when there are fears a child has been abducted under a new agreement with Gardaí, according to local Minister Denis Naughten.
Child Rescue Alerts, which are normally issued by Gardaí to radio, television, and placed on motorway electronic signs, will now also be posted on Facebook feeds.
Minister Naughten says the move will improve the chances of locating a child safe and well by using social media to alert tens of thousands of people at the one time.
“When a child goes missing timing is vital. It is imperative for the Gardaí to ask for the public’s assistance and get the word out quickly. This is particularly important in cases of child abduction.”
People across Roscommon and Galway will already be aware of the Amber or Child Rescue Alert scheme from hearing appeals on radio and TV, but now in future when a child is missing and in possible danger, the alerts will also be placed on users Facebook feeds. Such alerts will, where possible, include a picture and other details.
Users will be asked to be on the lookout for the child, possibly an adult suspected of being involved, as well as a car description and registration, if a vehicle has been used. Anyone with information or who sees anything suspicious will be told to contact Gardaí immediately.
The alerts can also be shared on Facebook which will spread the information even wider in a short period of time.
“This agreement represents another important tool in the effort to safeguard and protect our children. I welcome the use of social media and believe other uses which can keep our communities safe should be examined by the Gardaí and high tech firms,” said Minister Naughten.
Assistant Commissioner Special Crime Operations, John O’Driscoll of An Garda Síochána, said of the collaboration, “When a child is abducted and in danger, an extra pair of eyes can make all the difference. Since it was launched in 2012, our Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alerts already reach a big audience thanks to electronic road signs, radio and television, but now that they can be sent through Facebook, even more people will participate in the search, which significantly increases the chances of bringing the child back home safely.”
Emily Vacher, Facebook’s Director Trust and Safety, is proud to partner with An Garda Síochána, commenting, “The launch today shows the determination of the Gardaí to increase the reach of Child Alert Ireland. We know that when a child is abducted, the most valuable thing we can do is get information out to the public as fast as possible. By getting the right information to the right people at the right time through Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alerts on Facebook, we hope to reunite children with their families faster.”