NZ Police and Facebook team up to deliver new alert system to notify users when a child goes missing

Police and Facebook have launched a new alert system that notifies users on the social media site when a child or young person is missing or is in serious and immediate harm. 

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Director of trust and safety at Facebook Emily Vacher said the alert system is able to "reunite missing children with their families faster". Source: 1 NEWS

The AMBER Alerts system was revealed at the New Zealand Police National Headquarters in Wellington this morning. 

Once police activate the alert, Facebook users in the targeted search area will receive a notification at the top of their news feed, which includes a photograph of the child or teen, information surrounding the circumstances of what has occurred and stating an active search is underway in the area. 

Facebook users can then share the alert with friends and family. 

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the AMBER Alerts system is a valuable tool. 

"There have only been a very small number of abductions involving children in New Zealand's history, but other situations, such as where a young child goes missing from home and is at serious risk of harm, occur more regularly," Commissioner Bush said. 

"When these sorts of incidents do happen, Police takes them very seriously and will consider every option available to us to locate a child we have extreme concerns for.

"Having the AMBER Alerts system means we now have another useful tool to quickly contact the public in emergency situations.

"If we can use it to help save even just one child, then it is a system worth having."

The mother of a 14-year-old girl who never returned home after riding her horse to the beach at Awatoto, Napier, in 1983 said this tool would've helped search efforts if the system existed then. 

Kirsa Jensen has never been found since her disappearance on September 1, 1983. 

"Ensuring people quickly learn about a missing child is of utmost importance," her mother Robyn Jensen said. 

"AMBER Alerts is a wonderful way to spread the word and widen the circle of people watching out for a missing child. If this technology had been available in 1983 it could have been a different story for Kirsa.

"To lose a child is devastating but what makes it extraordinarily hard is just not knowing what has happened. I remain locked into that moment in time when Kirsa went missing."