Friday 20 September 2019

All 2.8m Facebook users in Ireland to receive alert if a child goes missing in extreme emergency

Service is an extension of Child Rescue Ireland Alerts, made possible by partnership between Gardai and Facebook


Kyle Ewald

Facebook will distribute alerts to every user in Ireland when a child has gone missing in extreme emergency situations, gardaí announced today.

The service is of an extension of Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alerts made possible by a partnership between An Garda Síochána and the social media site.

CRI is a system that enables gardaí  to seek the assistance of the public when it is believed that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child. The alert system has only been used six times since its introduction in 2012.

“In reacting to situations of vulnerability on thing is most important and that is a speedy response,” said Assistant Commissioner Special Crime Operations John O’Driscoll.

“And it is also essential that the Garda Síochána are not left alone to deal with the situations involved. There are many people and organisations and entities and societies that can help to protect children.”

Gardaí explained that a number of criteria must be met before an alert is sent, including that the child must be under 18, there must be reasonable belief that they have been abducted and there must be sufficient information available to enable to public to assist Garda in finding them.

Also, there must be a reasonable belief that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of the child.

If these criteria are met, a senior garda member will verify the alert and An Garda Síochána will notify Facebook’s 24/7 global security operations centre that a verified CRI Alert is active.

The social media site will then send the alert to the newsfeeds of all 2.8 million Facebook users in Ireland.

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan welcomed the new partnership saying: “The abduction of a child is without a doubt one of the most traumatic events the parents and their loved ones could ever endure.

“By presenting these CRI alerts to Facebook users on their feed, we as a society are afforded the opportunity to help and assist.”   

Facebook’s trust and safety manager Emily Vacher said Ireland is the 18th country in the world to partner with the site in an effort to locate missing persons.

“All of the biggest innovations today are done through partnerships across child protection organisations, private industries, law enforcement, policy-makers and the entire child safety community,” said Ms Vacher.

“We’ve often heard the phrase ‘It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to protect one.’”  

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