Missing children - 116 hotline
The 116 000 hotline has been designed to report missing children and provide social support services for children and families when a child goes missing.
A strong commitment to missing children
EU countries, national regulators, telecom operators and organisations wishing to provide this service must each make a strong commitment to ensure the number 116 000 is operational . In February 2007, the Commission adopted a Decision requiring EU countries to reserve the six-digit number range starting with 116 for services of social value in the EU. 116 000 was the first telephone number reserved in all EU countries as a hotline to report missing children.
The revised Universal Service Directive, adopted in 2009, introduced new obligations for the EU countries concerning the 116 000 hotline. It adds a specific obligation for the EU countries to "make every effort to ensure that citizens have access to the 116 000 hotline service". The deadline for implementing these obligations expired on 25 May 2011.
In November 2010 the Commission adopted a Communication 'Dial 116 000: The European hotline for missing children'. Its objective is:
- to renew the call on the EU countries to implement the missing children hotline as a matter of priority;
- to ensure the same high quality of service throughout the EU.
State of play
The 116 000 hotline is operational in 27 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Two key issues appear to be delaying the implementation of the missing children hotline in every EU country:
- the lack of information ;
- the cost of both running the hotline and calling the hotline.
The Commission provides practical support to the EU countries that have not yet implemented the hotline by:
- bringing to light the problems that have been identified so far;
- facilitating the exchange of best practice.
- Current state of implementation of the 116 000 hotline
- New website on 116numbers by Directorate General Information Society
- High Level conference European responses to missing children and the need for child-friendly justice - Brussels, 25 and 26 May 2011
- High Level conference Closing the gaps: 116 000 hotlines and child abduction alert mechanisms - Brussels, 30 May 2012
- Third Conference on Missing Children: 116 000 hotlines: innovative approaches and challenges to funding missing children - Brussels, 4 June 2013
- Study: “Missing children in the European Union – Mapping, data collection and statistics” (2013)