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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July, 2005, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Improved centre to help families
A woman looks at posters of the missing outside King's Cross station
Posters of the missing have been put outside King's Cross station
A centre has been opened to help families and friends trace people missing since last week's London bombs.

The centre at the Royal Horticultural Conference Hall near Victoria, central London, replaces a temporary centre at the nearby Queen Mother Sports Centre.

It will offer 24-hour help and be staffed by police family liaison officers and workers from groups such as the Red Cross and Victim Support.

Fifty families have sought help since the first centre opened on Saturday.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, who visited the centre at its opening on Tuesday, said it was for bereaved families as well as others affected by the bombs.

I hope families will see this as a one-stop shop, a place where they can come but also a place they can telephone
Tessa Jowell
Culture Secretary

Ms Jowell, who has been put in charge of providing government support for victims' relatives, said: "I hope families will see this as a one-stop shop, a place where they can come but also a place they can telephone.

"Help will be here for as long as families need it."

So far, police have sent 74 family liaison officers to help families who fear they have lost relatives in the attacks.

Some families have had more than one officer assigned to them.

Private rooms

The new centre's facilities include private family rooms, children's play areas and internet access.

Commander Steve Allen, of the Metropolitan Police, said the centre was moved because the sports centre was not big enough and its facilities were not adequate.

He also denied that police had been slow in setting up the centres.

He said: "In the immediate aftermath of the bombings, the police response was about identifying families who needed family liaison officers, trained detectives to work alongside families, and right from the beginning we were deploying these.

"On Saturday afternoon, we set up the first centre and since then 50 families have visited."

Relatives who visit the centre are asked to bring identification and a maximum of three other family members.

People wanting to volunteer are asked not to visit the centre.

Witnesses are asked not to present themselves to the family centre, but instead call the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

The Red Cross has set up a phone line on 0845 0547474 to provide information on the family centre.

The number for the Met's casualty bureau is 0870 156 6344.


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