Child Focus, the charity for missing children, has launched a new app to send push messages to users whenever a child goes missing in their area.
Child Focus, started some 25 years ago in the wake of the serial killer Marc Dutroux affair, had always worked with posters in public places like trams and buses, as well as donated advertising space in publications and, latterly, online.
Now though is the era of smartphones, apps and push messages – a service you sign up for that sends you messages under conditions you agreed to.
The app, named Child Rescue Community, can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play. Registration asks only for permission to note your location and send push messages, as well as name and email address. Home address, phone number and date of birth are optional.
The app is part of “an EU funded project that aspires to effectively reduce the primary period between the moment a child is reported missing and when it is found,” the listing says.
“Child Rescue Community offers real time notifications for amber alerts that are active near your current location and provides a secure communication channel with the responsible organizations where you can provide your feedback for a missing case and help them reunite missing children with their loved ones.”
As well as receiving information about missing children, the app also allows the user to send messages to Child Focus.
The charity deals with reports of around 2,000 missing children and young people a year – more than three a day. In 95% of cases the child returns safely, but every case is taken seriously from the start – even in the case of repeat runaways.
“Every minute is important in the event of a disappearance,” said Heidi De Pauw, director of Child Focus.
“The sooner we have information, the more likely it is we will find the child. This app is therefore a very important step.”