The European Hotline 116,000 is coordinated by Missing Children Europe (MCE), the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children representing 28 NGOs operating in 19 European Union countries and Switzerland. To date, the service is operative in 16 EU Member States: Belgium, Netherlands, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary, UK, Spain, Germany, Estonia, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Irland , Luxembourg, Slovenia and Malta. All these countries cooperate with the intent to set up good practices at European level and to facilitate the exchange of interventional procedures more and more effective in combating the disappearance of children and adolescents, Italian and foreign. MCE publishes an annual Report, whose last version dates back to March 2010, and further has published a practical guide for hotline operators, so that all coutries use common operative procedures.
In Italy, in 2008 the Authority for the Guarantees in Communications has made available and considered as reserved for use by the Ministry of the Interior, also by using an external service, the phone number 116000 – Hotline for missing children.
Since the 25th May 2009 – International Missing Children’s Day – the 116000 is active in our country and managed by Telefono Azzurro, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of the Interior that determined the direct assignment to the Association that is committed to fielding his own resources for project management. The 116000, managed by Telefono Azzurro, is a toll-free hotline, accessible by land line and mobile telephony in Italy. Its task is to answer 24 hours per day to reports, from the national territory, concerning situations of missing children and to support investigations of the competent authorities through agreements and operating procedures that Telefono Azzurro has defined and shared with the Police.
After gathering the necessary information, the reports are promptly forwarded to law enforcement authorities (Police or Carabinieri), using a dedicated Database. The procedures require that the reports have to forwarded through phone contact and e-mail, containing the data stored in an electronic data collection form, or by fax. The Service 116000 is also born with the aim of creating a network of synergistic action between various Services in the Member States in order to facilitate the possibility of intervention and the recovery of missing children: for this reason the reports involving countries where the 116,000 is already active, are forwarded immediately to their hotline. Immediate action is essential: as research shows, in fact, as more as the reports of disappeareances are timely, much more it is possible to have a positive outcome, because the first hours after the disappeareance are of vital importance.