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A hotline for reporting missing or abducted children launched at 10 Downing to help campaign groups and other supporters

Date: (25 May 2012)    |    

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Home Secretary Theresa May hosted a reception in Number 10 for campaign groups, celebrity supporters and families of missing children where a European hotline for reporting missing and abducted children was launched.

Kate McCann mother of Madeline has hailed the launch of the website as 'lifeline' for families like hers.

Speaking at Downing Street yesterday, she said that cases such as the disappearance of her daughter Madeleine had led to 'greater awareness' of the problem and said there had been a shift in attitudes among politicians.

There was a need to keep spreading the message as it was a big problem, and the support of the Government was very much needed ' said Mrs McCann at the launch of the hotline at Number 10.

In the last few years there's been greater awareness and certainly there's been a greater political will, she said.

It is hoped the free and confidential 116000 hotline, which is available in 16 European countries including France, Spain and Portugal, will help police forces to act quickly when children disappear.

A child is reported missing in the UK every three minutes.

Madeleine McCann went missing in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 2007, just days before her fourth birthday.

British detectives said last month that there was a chance that she could still be alive, more than five years after she disappeared in the holiday spot in the Algarve.

Reviewing the case, they said they were pursuing 195 leads and firmly believed Madeleine was abducted.

Portuguese police, however, have refused to re-open the case.

A Swiss father was questioned by police earlier this month after it emerged he was seen with a blonde girl in his car just hours after Madeleine disappeared, but insisted he was driving his own daughter.

The hotline is run by missingkids.co.uk, Britain's official website to help find missing children, which was also re-launched ahead of International Missing Children's Day on Friday.

Nicki Durbin the mother of 19-year-old boy Luke who went missing after a night out with friends in Ipswich, Suffolk, in May 2006 also attended the gathering and said there’s been a huge change in the last year with more people being aware of the missing ones.

Two London cabs sporting advertisements for the newly-relaunched website were parked outside the front door of Number 10.

Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of Missing People, added disappearances such as Madeleine McCann's tragically demonstrated the need for co-ordination across the world when a child went missing.