Media responds rapidly to 'child rescue alert'

The first use in Europe of a child rescue alert has been hailed as a success by Sussex Police after it ensured saturation media coverage of a missing child.

Six-year-old Summer Haipule was reported missing at 7.26pm on Monday night. E-mails headed “child rescue alert” were sent out to radio, television and newspaper outlets across Sussex at 10pm and the first news appeals were

broadcast 20 minutes later.

The story was also picked up by national TV and featured in most national newspapers the next day.

Summer was found at 7am on Tuesday morning hiding in a friend’s house and her discovery was not as a result of the system.

The alert system has been in place since November and Sussex Police has held seminars to brief local news outlets about it.

There are four criteria to meet before an alert can be sent out: the child must be under 16, must be thought to have been

kidnapped, there must be a belief the child is in imminent danger and there must be sufficient information to enable the public help police.

The Argus in Brighton

suggested Sussex Police adopt child rescue alerts following the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne in July 2000.

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