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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ananda Alert System was recently transferred to the OCR
  • These billboards should assist the public to see and identify these children quickly

Information on missing children and their contacts will soon be placed on electronic billboards to be erected in various locations, as part of the Ananda Alert System.

This was revealed by Registrar of the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), Greig Smith, while giving an update on the Ananda Alert System, designed to ensure the speedy and safe recovery of a child in the unfortunate event that he or she is missing or abducted.

The system was recently transferred to the OCR, an agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture. Prior to the transfer, the system was operated by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

“I have signed a contract, which will be reviewed in short order, for the installation of public electronic boards,” Mr. Smith said, adding that the billboards will be installed in Half-Way Tree, New Kingston, Matilda’s Corner, Savana-la-mar, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Spanish Town.

“These billboards should assist the public to see and identify these children quickly and call the Office of the Children’s Registry or the nearest police station,” he added.

Mr. Smith informed JIS News that since the transfer of the system, an Ananda Alert Secretariat and a missing person desk have been created at the OCR.  In addition, he said the OCR has employed an acting Ananda Alert and Child Recovery Co-ordinator and a Public Education Specialist.

“We are working to iron out a few logistics. We have started receiving our monthly reports. We did receive one on June 26, which states that we have over 1,154 children  missing and approximately 190 children still yet unaccounted for,” he said.

Of the number of missing children, he said the agency has recorded the death of three females and two males.

“We think we are making some strides. There is still more work to be done, but I hope that within the next quarter of the financial year, we should have completed at least 90 per cent of what I have outlined, to be up and going,” he said.

He commended the print and electronic media for their role in publicising the pictures and names of missing children, and pointed to the mobile applications of the Gleaner and the Daily Observer, which enable people to get photographs and information of these children. He noted, too, that a number of cable companies are getting involved in displaying similar information.

Meanwhile, Mr. Smith said the OCR is consulting with a number of stakeholders in Kingston and Western Jamaica, who were not present at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2013.

“A number of agencies initially didn’t sign and so we are getting them on board now. We have received feedback from the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and so in short order, that Ministry and the Ministry of Education would be signing the MoU,” he said.

The MoU is aimed at raising public awareness concerning missing children and also seeks to strengthen rescue, recovery and intervention measures that are vital to the welfare of child victims and their families.

Signatories included representatives from: the Child Development Agency, Jamaica Information Service, Office of the Children’s Advocate; Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC); Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica; Ministries of Youth and Culture, Health, Education, Justice, Local Government and Community Development, National Security, and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.