Recent developments and models in implementing the 116 000 hotlines across Europe
> Hotlines for missing children
The 116 000 hotline for missing children was reserved in 2007 by the European Commission, and has been implemented gradually at national level since. Today the hotline is operational in all EU Member States as well as in Serbia and Albania.
Operational 116 000 hotlines have generated tangible and real change for the life of parents and children across Europe. Through the number parents and children alike, whether at home or in another European country, have obtained free emotional, psychological, social, legal and administrative support. This holistic and multidisciplinary approach is necessary to deal with the specific needs of parents and children calling the hotline.
> European network
Beyond the cooperation between 116 000 hotlines and national services operated in the respective countries, missing children hotlines also actively cooperate across borders, in particular within the framework of projects developed by Missing Children Europe. Efforts undertaken over the past years have focused on:
- Awareness: 116 000 hotlines have coordinated efforts in raising awareness on missing children, through projects including viral video campaigns, the award-winning Notfound project, common posters and flyer campaigns etc.
- Quality: 116 000 hotlines jointly developed a Practical Guide for Hotline Operators outlining common minimum quality standards in operating 116 000 hotlines as well as basic cross border cooperation procedures. The guide is available and used in 15 languages. At present, Missing Children Europe is developing a harmonised Client Relationship and Data Collection Management system, which will provide for an additional step in the effectivity of the network.
- Funding: The European Commission provided funding for the hotlines between 2011 and 2014, leading to a gradual increase in calls responded to by the network, as well as improvements regarding the quality of service and operation of the hotlines. Funding was discontinued in 2015, which had an impact on the network, including a considerable drop in staff operating the hotlines as well as in calls responded. Funding has been awarded to 15 hotlines for 2016.
While Member States have an obligation to support hotlines under the Universal Service Directive art 27a, many hotlines do not benefit from national funding.
- Implementation: The implementation of the 116 000 hotlines in all EU Member States has been stimulated i.a. through a close cooperation with national regulatory authorities in the field of telecommunications as well as telecom operators. Other efforts include the provision of training of staff by other hotlines, through peer visits and exchange of best practice.
> Challenges and next steps
Despite the progress of the network, 116 000 hotlines member of Missing Children Europe reported the following challenges:
Key challenges reported by 116 000 hotlines
Missing Children Europe is determined to continue working with the hotlines to make sure that each and everyone of the current 250 000 children reported missing in the EU as well as those who are not covered by these statistics receive vital support.