Dames assures MARCO Alert implementation a priority
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames again assured yesterday that the government is prioritizing the implementation of the MARCO Alert for missing children.
In the wake of two recent alleged child abductions, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis and Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin called on the government to prioritize the introduction of the alert system.
Speaking to reporters outside the House of Assembly, Dames said, “We worked with the company to work out all the kinks. We just got a proposal in hand; that’s [movement]. When the opposition [was] the government, they had the opportunity to do the same; they did not. They procrastinated.
“Now, all of a sudden we’ve got to move. We have been moving very quickly on this. We take this very seriously as a government, as you can see. They had the regulations sitting on their desk [and] did nothing with it.”
In February, Davis called on the government to take the kidnapping of a three-year-old as “a wake up call for us to consider implementing [the MARCO Alert system]”.
The boy was kidnapped, reportedly by two women in a silver car, while riding his bicycle in front of his South Beach home.
He was dropped off at a wash house on Joe Farrington Road and Fox Hill Road the following morning.
Two weeks later, a six-year-old girl was reportedly taken from her home off Wilton Street shortly after 2 a.m. She was found unharmed a short time later.
Dames said the government has reviewed and amended the regulations required for the introduction of the alert.
He said a Cabinet paper on the matter was recently completed and “should be coming very shortly”.
“We’re taking this very seriously as a government and the public can expect to see results very shortly,” the minister said.
“We’re about results, not about saying what should’ve been done quickly when you were in power.”
Following the 2011 murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer, the government tabled regulations to govern which cases will prompt the activation of the alert.
According to the regulations, prior to the issuance of a MARCO Alert, the commissioner of police “shall in satisfying himself that a child is at risk of harm or death, confirm that there is reasonable belief that a child is missing or has been abducted; that the child is in danger of serious bodily injury or death; and that there is descriptive information about the child that will assist in the recovery of the child”.
The regulations did not compel media to report on missing persons.
However, there was an expectation of cooperation in the effort.
Newspapers were expected to publish a missing person’s report daily until a child was found.
Meanwhile, radio stations were expected to air an alert at least three times per day.