UK & World News
Big Tweet For Missing Children Gets Under Way
Campaigners are hoping to reunite missing children with their families by recruiting social media users to join a day of action today.
It is estimated that 140,000 children and young people go missing in the UK every year according to the charity Missing People.
The Big Tweet for Missing Children will see a different child's appeal and photograph posted on Twitter every 30 minutes today under the hashtag #bigtweet.
With the help of TV personalities including Stephen Fry, organisers hope to improve on the 58,000 retweets they achieved last year which are believed to have resulted in at least two missing children being found.
An extension to the Child Rescue Alert system has also become operational, using text and email to send messages about missing children whose lives are believed to be at immediate risk.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) which issues six to eight alerts each year, hopes a million people will sign up though its website to receive them.
The new service has been welcomed by Coral Jones, the mother of April Jones whose abduction from her home town of Machynlleth, Powys, in October 2012 triggered one of the alerts.
"You don't know what's around the corner, it could be your child next," she said.
"I think everyone should sign up because you never know what will happen where you are."
Only a small fraction of missing children are known to have been taken by someone, with police statistics from 2011/12 showing 675 children and young people were the victim of an abduction or attempted abduction.
In most cases the perpetrator was a parent (17%) or someone the youngster knew but was not related to (35%), but 42% of incidents involved strangers.
Kevin Gosden, from Doncaster, whose son Andrew went missing in 2007 aged 14 and has never been seen since, is encouraging people to support both campaigns, even if it does not result in him finding Andrew.
"If it does something to raise awareness of this issue, and it gets families to think about that and talk with their kids to be sure that they know the number for Missing People - 116 000 - then I think that also is a good thing," he said.