MORE than 20,000 people have downloaded the garda Child Rescue Ireland alert smartphone application since it was launched last month.
The CRI alert system (right) was introduced in May 2012, and there have only ever been two alerts of its kind.
The CRI alert enables gardai to seek the assistance of the public through the media, where a child has been abducted, and "there is reasonable belief that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health and/or welfare of a child".
Gardai launched the alert on July 29 last, when Sanjeev Chada disappeared with his sons Ruairi and Eoghan. The boys were later found dead in the boot of their father's car, and he has since been charged with their murder.
The second alert was issued on November 28, when a Roscommon woman went missing with her three children. However, gardai later cancelled that alert when they were located safe and well in Fermanagh. Now thousands of smartphone users have downloaded the free app since it was launched on December 4, by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
Made with assistance from Vodafone, the CRI app allows users to receive free CRI alerts direct to their phone.
The CRI alert asks the public to assist the gardai as much as they can. During the CRI alert, as much information is issued about the children concerned as possible, including photographs and a car registration number if applicable.
The phone app also allows users to build a profile on their own children, "should the need arise".