The Royal Mail has unveiled a scheme that will see almost 150,000 people become the nation’s “eyes and ears” in the hunt for vulnerable adults and children who go missing in the UK.
The postal service has formed a partnership with the charity Missing People that will see location-specific “high risk” alerts fired out across its network when someone is reported lost.
Designated as either “Child Rescue Alerts” or “High Risk Missing People Alerts”, important information about where the person was last seen and what they look like will be sent straight to the handheld PDAs postmen and women all carry with them on their rounds.
Missing People hailed the “truly inspired” scheme, which has the potential to reach 124,000 people out on the street across the nation. A further 24,000 people will receive the alerts via computer and TV screens across Royal Mail offices.
It is the first time an organisation has opened up its entire business communication network to Britain’s only specialist nationwide charity helping find missing people.
And it more than double’s Missing People’s reach. The charity currently sends out alerts when someone is reported missing to the police that are issued to 123,000 subscribers.
Jo Youle, the CEO of Missing People said: “When someone goes missing and is at risk, every minute after a disappearance is crucial to bringing them home safely. Our partnership with Royal Mail is a truly inspired way to spread an alert quickly and to the very people who are the eyes and ears of their local communities.”
Sue Whalley, Chief Operations Officer, Royal Mail, said: “Royal Mail’s postmen and women are out in the community six days a week, across the country.
“We are all very aware of the trauma experienced by the families and communities of missing people, particularly children.
“We want to use our unique position to support this important service and perhaps help to reunite families with their missing loved ones.”
Missing People works in collaboration with the National Crime Agency. The manager of the NCA’s Missing People and Abducted Children branch, Charlie Hedges, said: “It will now be possible for thousands of postal workers to be on the lookout for vulnerable missing children and adults, and that can be of real value to efforts to find them. Partnerships like this utilise the strengths of different organisations for the ultimate benefit of our work to make children safer.”