Kate and I arrived back from Washington yesterday. We went primarily to visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and to learn more about the implementation of their national AMBER alert system (child rescue alert). The whole experience was very positive. The staff at NCMEC is the most experienced in dealing with missing and abducted children anywhere in the world.

The AMBER alert system should be used in the most serious child abduction cases (usually by strangers, when the child is considered at risk of serious harm) to recover the child as quickly as possible. The alert is based on the realisation that galvanising the local community can play a huge role in finding missing children. Last year alone 68 children, and almost 400 in total since its? implementation, were recovered safely as a direct result of the AMBER alert. In 16 cases the abductor released the child safely when hearing the AMBER alert. We strongly feel that Europe should have a similar integrated child rescue alert.

Our visit to Washington and meetings with other relevant European organisations will be shown on a documentary to be screened by ITV on the 30 April. The programme will focus on the campaign to introduce a European version of the AMBER alert. There will of course be massive media interest in Madeleine’s disappearance at this time, if she remains missing, and we hope that the programme is shown in most European countries and further afield.

During our Washington visit we were also very encouraged to hear that, in NCMEC’s experience, the younger the child at the time of abduction the less likely that child will be seriously harmed. Such information makes us believe even more fervently, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that Madeleine can be found safe and well

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