Page last updated at 20:06 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 21:06 UK

McCanns back Amber Alert system

Gerry and Madeleine McCann
Spanish border authorities were told 12 hours after Madeleine disappeared

Madeleine McCann's parents will visit Brussels next week to support a Europe-wide cross-border missing child alert system.

Gerry and Kate McCann want Euro MPs to back a US-style "Amber Alert" system which helps track abducted youngsters.

Madeleine disappeared days before her fourth birthday from a holiday resort in southern Portugal last May.

The McCanns discussed the American system, which includes TV and radio alerts, during a US visit last month.

French alert

The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said they were happy to use Madeleine's disappearance to boost any moves which would improve the recovery rate of missing children in the 27 EU countries.

"When Madeleine disappeared, it was 12 hours before the authorities along the Spanish border were informed," said Mr Mitchell.

Under the American Amber Alert scheme nearly 400 children have been recovered since 2003
Yorkshire and Humberside Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott

"But we have modern technology and there must be a simple way of tracking a situation as it develops."

Only France has introduced a comprehensive national child alert system similar to America's Amber Alert.

It means French authorities can flash up electronic missing child information on French motorway signboards within 30 minutes of a confirmed case of abduction.

The European Parliament will consider a draft declaration on emergency cooperation in recovering missing children.

Yorkshire and Humberside Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, who supports a EU-wide alert system, said: "Under the American Amber Alert scheme nearly 400 children have been recovered since 2003 - 80% in the crucial first 72 hours".

The Portuguese government, aware of the controversy surrounding the McCann case, promoted the French alert system to EU justice ministers at talks last September.


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