A new system for alerting the public about missing children will come into effect in the first half of next year, the Home Affairs ministry announced today.

The AMBER Alert System will allow police to quickly involve the public in the search for missing children using an array of available media, from TV to variable-message road signs, public transport, text messages, and social media, among others.  

Local police have teamed up with international NGO AMBER Alert Europe to set up the system and network it with that of other EU member states, the ministry said. 

The Netherlands, Slovakia and Luxembourg already make use of the AMBER Alert system. A further 13 EU countries have their own child alert systems in place. 

“Ensuring children's well-being and protection from harm have always formed an intrinsic part of the Maltese people’s core values,” Home Affairs minister Carmelo Abela said.

“The issue of abducted or missing children has always been given utmost priority by our Police Force, and during its Presidency of the Council of the EU Malta will be working hard to see further developments on a European level in this field.”

He commended MEPs Miriam Dalli and Roberta Metsola for being at the forefront of a group of MEPs calling for improved cross-border cooperation in saving missing children’s lives.

Around 250,000 children are reported missing in the EU each year. In 76 percent of cases in which a child is abducted and killed, the child is murdered within three hours of the abduction.