Facebook users will now receive garda Child Rescue alerts

Irish Facebook users will now be alerted in emergency missing-child cases.

Child Rescue Ireland is a system used by Gardaí when they believe a person under 18 has been abducted and is in serious and imminent danger.

The force has now teamed up with the social network giant to reach a wider audience quicker.

It will include a picture of the child, information about the missing child and the suspected abductor and any other details that may help find them.

Facebook users will also be able to share the alert with their friends.

Speaking at the launch today, Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan said: "The extent of Facebook’s reach means that its ability to swiftly communicate these critical CRI Alerts to a significant portion of the national population is unparalleled.

"The CRI Alert partnership is a wonderful example of using social media in a positive way for the good of society and, in particular, for the protection of vulnerable children.

"I commend the collaboration between An Garda Síochána and Facebook and also welcome the opportunity this engagement provides to raise awareness of the issue of missing persons, more generally."

Assistant Commissioner Special Crime Operations John O'Driscoll says that an extra pair of eyes can make all the difference when it comes to a missing child.

"Since it was launched in 2012, our Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alerts already reach a big audience thanks to electronic road signs, radio and television, but now that they can be sent through Facebook, even more people will participate in the search, which significantly increases the chances of bringing the child back home safely."

John O’Driscoll, Assistant Commissioner Special Crime Operations of An Garda Síochána is pictured with Emily Vacher, Director of Trust and Safety at Facebook. Pic: Andres Poveda

How it works

On the guards have been notified of an abducted child, they will decide if the case meets their CRI Alert criteria, which are:

  • The child is under the age of eighteen years old
  • There is a reasonable belief that the child has been abducted
  • There is a reasonable belief that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child
  • There is sufficient information available to enable the public to assist An Garda Síochána in locating the child

If these criteria are met, Gardaí will notify Facebook's security team, which operates 24/7, that a verified CRI Alert is active.

Facebook will then send the alert to the Newsfeeds of people in Ireland as quickly as possible.

Digital Desk

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