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Amber Alert would have been of no use in last decade, claim gardai

GARDA experts have concluded that no missing child case in the past 10 years would have justified an early warning system.

However, they have been told to develop an 'Amber Alert' style system to respond quickly if a child is abducted and is in danger of being killed.

Ireland currently has no equivalent to the American 'Amber Alert' under which texts, webpages, media and traffic signage is used to send out an immediate crisis alert about missing children.

Gardai had concluded there was no case in the past 10 years in Ireland "that would have warranted the initiation of an alert".

"Contrary to popular understanding, the Amber Alert system is not used for every child who is reported missing," the Garda Inspectorate said in its latest report.

"In fact, the Amber Alert system is governed by very strict criteria and employed under those criteria."

These are:

  • that the missing person is a child,

  • that police have reason to believe the child has been abducted or kidnapped,

  • that there is reasonable belief the child is in imminent danger of serious injury or death, and

  • that there is sufficient information to describe the child and the circumstances of the disappearance.

While acknowledging that gardai said there was no case in the past decade here to warrant such an alert, the Inspectorate said it believed that this fact "should not rule out consideration of an alert system".

The Inspectorate said: "The potential to rescue a child from a life-threatening abduction is deserving of priority in all circumstances."

Developing an alert system would be a "challenging task" and said it would need the participation of many government agencies in addition to the gardai.