KINGSTON — Changes are to be made shortly to the operations of the Ananda Alert system, that should bring about improvement, as well as increase the number of persons taking part in the emergency network.
This was disclosed by Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, in an interview with JIS News.
The State Minister explained that the changes to be implemented would lead to better co-ordination of the Ananda Alert System.
Under the Ananda Alert programme, when a child goes missing, a report is made to the nearest police station or by calling 119. The police will then alert all Ananda Alert stakeholders, including the media houses, mobile companies, local authorities, parish councils, and these will then mobilise community groups.
Photos of the missing child are placed on electronic/mobile billboards, in shops, supermarkets, community centres, church halls, schools and post offices.
Mr. Montague said the Ananda Alert system is now at about 75 per cent of the clock-work efficiency at which the Government wants it to operate.
“You know the last mile is always the most difficult and I think we’re up to the challenges and our stakeholder partners are just as enthusiastic,” he said.
Concern has been raised about the low response from the public being part of the ‘Alert’ network, where persons would receive text messages whenever an alarm was raised about a missing child.
“So, what we have decided to do is to increase the amount of staffing we have dedicated to the ‘alert system’, to increase that co-ordination. You have the police on one hand, the public, the Parish Councils and the media houses and we need to bring everything together and that is what we are trying to achieve,” he said.
Mr. Montague pointed out that although there were challenges, the Police have reported a 42 per cent increase in the return rate.
“We are working with the Parish Councils to utilise the political network in the different parishes as each political party has a representative in each community. Once we log on to that network we will be able to put that information in the communities quickly and that persons will be on the alert to find the child,” he explained.
Chairman of LIME Foundation, Errol Miller told JIS News that the critical thing for all stakeholders to do now is to continue with the public education/public awareness campaign and eventually the results sought would be achieved.
He is also encouraging the public to get involved. “It’s a simple matter. Just text the word help to a number that is provided and you’ll receive those alerts about missing children,” he said.
By O. RODGER HUTCHINSON, JIS PR Officer