SAPS and Facebook partner to launch Amber Alerts in South Africa

Police car on the street at night

In a first for the Southern Hemisphere, the South African Police Services and Facebook have partnered to launch Amber Alerts within South Africa – a Facebook feature that will alert communities in the event a child has gone missing within a certain geographical area.

In a letter seen by Mybroadband, SAPS has confirmed that the feature – which will launch imminently – will be used to assist local communities find missing children by issuing push notifications and updates within the main Facebook app.

Once a child is reported missing to the police, SAPS will be able to issue an Amber Alert to Facebook users within a radius of where the child was last reported seen. According to the letter, “The National Bureau for Missing Persons will send the Amber Alert to the Facebook International Head Quarters, who will communicate the alert to all Facebook users within a 160km radius from the global positioning coordinates, town, or city where the child was last seen.”

The letter goes on to elaborate that “once Facebook receives the activation email from the SAPS’ Bureau for Missing Persons, the global security team will prepare and activate the alert on Facebook within minutes.”

SAPS Authorities will have the right to adjust the Amber Alert’s report and radius in the event the missing child in question is reported seen in a different geographical area than where the report first specified.

To create an Amber Alert, the parents or guardians of a missing child will need to complete or issue (with the help of a SAPS official):

  • A completed SAPS 55(A) form.
  • An A1 statement from parent or guardian (the case reporter).
  • Proof of a registered enquiry on CAS/ICDMS function 13.1.
  • Circulated material, if already circulated.
  • The latest-available photograph of the missing child, and, if possible, any assisting information such as the description of the suspect.
  • A completed Amber Alert template.