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An international conference on missing persons is taking place in Ljubljana today and tomorrow, 18 and 19 October 2022.

The meeting, which focuses particularly on missing children and missing elderly persons, is organised under the auspices of the European Police Expert Network on Missing Persons (PEN-MP), which operates within the framework of the Working Group on Law Enforcement of the Council of the EU, and in cooperation with the international Amber Alert Europe Foundation.

Video AmberAlert medn konferenca okt 2022 izrez

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The area of missing persons was one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021, during which time Slovenian experts achieved major success by preparing and reaching agreement among all EU Member States on a set of measures to improve cross-border police cooperation on missing persons.

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Damjan Mikli─Ź, head of the Police Expert Network on Missing Persons and of the Homicide and Sexual Offences Section, said in his conference address today: "The Slovenian Police are once again organising a very important meeting of police and other experts in the field of missing persons from 25 European countries. Our common approach increases the chances of bringing missing persons back home as soon as possible. With the Council conclusions on stepping up cross-border cooperation, we have upgraded our operational work and for the first time ever put the treatment of missing persons on the map of the European security architecture for a higher level of security in Europe."

The experts were welcomed by the Minister of the Interior, Tatjana Bobnar: "At the Ministry of the Interior and the Slovenian Police, we place great emphasis on the issue of missing persons. In my own experience, it is one of the most difficult forms of police work. Especially when it comes to missing children, as the most vulnerable members of society. When somebody goes missing, the police immediately activate all their forces and capabilities in order to find them as soon as possible, alive and unharmed."

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ÔÇťEvery parent knows the feeling of panic when they lose sight of their child. Fortunately for most of them, they quickly find their child again. However, there is not always a happy ending ÔÇô 300,000 children are reported missing to the police every year in Europe. And many of them are taken across national borders," said Frank Hoen, chairman and founder of Amber Alert Europe, "In order to increase the chance of saving a missing child, we were in urgent need of strengthening the cooperation between police in European countries, while developing new tools and procedures.ÔÇŁ

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The international conference aims to transfer knowledge, practices and experience, while the long-term goal remains a common European approach to dealing with missing persons and improving standards of work in this field. Therefore, in addition to current cases, the conference will also address tools and modern approaches to searching for missing persons, such as detecting deception in missing persons investigations, preserving material traces, and using DNA profiling and stable isotope methods, as well as how to approach and communicate with missing persons with dementia and how to communicate in cases of missing children who are victims of crime.

One of the topics of the conference will be the establishment of a rapid response system (Amber Alert) for the most dangerous or most high-risk cases of missing children. The aim is to inform the public as soon as possible about a missing child and to call on everyone to do what they can to help in the search. To achieve this goal, information about a missing child must be disseminated to as many people as possible in a given area in as short a time as possible. After a risk assessment has been carried out, the police ask the media or other disseminators of information to spread the information about the disappearance of a child at risk as quickly as possible.

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Police forces in some European countries have established such cooperation with Meta Inc. The Slovenian police intend to join and to start using the Meta Amber Alert system on their Facebook and Instagram accounts soon. Emily Vacher of Meta Inc. said: "We are having important discussions with the Slovenian police on the possibility of their using the Meta Amber Alert system to obtain information in cases of missing children. It takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, but it also takes a village to protect our children. We are confident that this new collaboration will help to do just that."

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In addition to police experts from more than 25 European countries, Australia, Canada and the United States, the conference brings together representatives of Interpol, Europol, Frontex, the Law Enforcement Task Force, the Bavarian Police, and police academies from Ljubljana, Zagreb and Lower Saxony in Germany. Also present are representatives of the Supreme State ProsecutorÔÇÖs Office of the Republic of Slovenia and foreign organisations such as Meta Inc. from the US, Locate International from the UK and Ludwig-Maximilian University from Munich.

On the margins of the conference, Minister of the Interior Tatjana Bobnar met with Frank Hoen, the founder and chairman of the AMBER Alert Europe Foundation. In an informal and friendly conversation, they agreed that the Ministry of the Interior and the Slovenian Police were important partners of the Amber Alert Foundation. They expressed their commitment to continue working closely together in the field of missing persons, which is considered to be one of the most difficult forms of police work and where international cooperation is of paramount importance.

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Amber Alert Europe

Police Expert Network on Missing Persons