Alert System to Catch Child Abductors
Child abductors be warned: police, media and the
community are about to join forces in the fight to
keep children safe.
Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence said a working
party which included police, high-ranking public servants
and media representatives had been formed with the express
aim of getting details of child abductions into public
awareness as soon as possible.
She said the idea was for radio and television programs
to be interrupted to get the abduction information across
quickly, without waiting for regular news broadcasts.
"The abduction of a child is a heinous crime and this is
one way the police, media and the community can fight back,
deterring and catching abductors and returning children as
soon as possible," Ms Spence said.
"... If police believe a child has been abducted, the
media ... broadcasts details about the child, where they
were last seen and any other important information."
Ms Spence said the decision to try the Australia-first
system had been sparked by an increase in the number of
reported abductions and attempted abductions in recent times.
The most recent of these was yesterday's kidnapping of
two boys, aged three and five, who were allegedly threatened
with being chopped up after being snatched by a woman on Brisbane's northside.
In this case the boys were later found safe and well,
with their abductor now in custody.
The fate of Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe,
however, is still unknown after he disappeared while
waiting for a bus on December 7.
Ms Spence said the system was based on the Amber Alert
program in the United States which was founded after the
1997 abduction and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman.
Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said there would be a
number of difficulties involved in the use of an Amber
He said one of the most important factors was to ensure
the accuracy of the information before handing it over to the media.
Mr Atkinson said initial reports were often full of
incorrect information which, if released too early,
could see the wrong suspect targeted while allowing the
real offender time to get away.
The working party will meet for the first time next week and
hopes to have its recommendations ready in three months.
If approved by Cabinet, the system would be implemented early next year.