What is an Amber Alert?
An Amber Alert is a process that involves the urgent broadcast of relevant information through the media and other means to the public to facilitate the search for, location and the safe recovery of an abducted child or high risk missing child.
The alert has been developed by the Queensland Police Service and the Police Minister's office with assistance from the broadcast media, Facebook and secondary alerting partners.
When will the alert be activated?
An Amber Alert is intended for time critical situations. Police will consider the circumstances and risk factors of each case of a missing child and may issue an alert in the following circumstances:
Where a child under the age of eighteen years is reasonably suspected of having been abducted or taken away by a person and there appears to be an imminent risk of death or serious harm to them. It is irrelevant whether the person taking the child has lawful custody of the child.
High risk missing child
A child under the age of eighteen years who is missing in concerning or suspicious circumstances and there appears to be an imminent risk of death or serious harm to them.
For an alert to be issued there should be:
(i) sufficient descriptive information available to make an Amber Alert effective; and
(ii) reasonable grounds for believing an Amber Alert will assist in the location and safe recovery of the child.
How does the alert work?
The system enlists community assistance to help find and safely recover children and apprehend offenders.
Under the system, police will urgently notify the media and provide them with details about an abducted or high risk missing child, where they were last seen and other important information such as a description of the offender and any vehicle involved. QPS social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the myPolice blog site have become crucial tools to enable police to quickly distribute information to the community about a missing child.
Television and radio stations will break into normal transmission with a dedicated alert tone and regularly broadcast these details until the alert is cancelled, instead of waiting for the next news bulletin. Online media outlets will also assist in publishing information regarding Amber Alerts.
The alert will ask anyone with information that could help police locate the child to immediately call a dedicated hot line number.
If the child is not located within three to four hours the alert will be cancelled and further media broadcasts will be conducted through normal news services.
The aim is for the alert to receive wide spread publicity through traditional media outlets, social media and secondary alerting partners such as transport agencies and electronic road signage.