The missing children hotline improves safety across the EU

Publication date 25.9.2023 11.00 | Published in English on 17.10.2023 at 10.14
News item

In the event that an underage child becomes missing, it is important to inform the responsible authorities quickly. For this purpose, assistance is available from a common European hotline. In Finland, the hotline can be used for sharing tips about missing children. In emergencies, the number to call is 112.

Did you know that the European Commission has implemented an EU-wide hotline for missing children 116 000? The aim is that regardless of country, missing children could be reported to the same hotline anywhere in the EU. It is noteworthy that elsewhere in Europe, emergency response centre operations are organised quite differently than in Finland, and other EU countries may have dozens of emergency numbers specific to each authority. Calls to the European emergency number 112 may be answered by a representative of a different authority depending on the country. For this reason, too, the Commission has set out to implement a Europe-wide hotline for contacting authorities responsible for investigating cases of missing children.

In Finland, the emergency number 112 assists in all emergencies, including missing children. Emergency response centre operators are also trained in identifying social emergencies, and the emergency number handles plenty of matters related to children on a daily basis, including children who are missing or have ran away from home, as well as tasks that fall within the scope of social services, such as assessing a minor's need for care. In an emergency, always call the emergency number 112.

The role of the EU-wide hotline 116 000 is therefore different in Finland. The number should be used for non-urgent matters and serves mainly as a hotline for tips. 

Call the missing children hotline when you need to:

•    ask for advice in cases that involve a missing child
•    report that a missing child has been found
•    ask for information about your missing child.

Close cooperation between authorities

The missing children hotline was introduced in Finland in 2016. The service is provided by the Emergency Response Centre Administration. Matters that require emergency response are redirected to the emergency number. If the matter does not require an emergency response, the caller will be given the necessary advice. The hotline receives about 60 calls a year, with one third of them resulting in the case being forwarded to another authority.

A special group in Finland are minors who are in foster care or otherwise placed in another family and who leave without permission or do not return to their foster family or place of care. In these situations, the authorities work in close cooperation in accordance with pre-agreed models, and such cases therefore do not fall within the scope of the missing children hotline. 

Although the most important thing in Finland is to remember the emergency number 112, it's also good to keep in mind the missing children hotline 116 000.  For example, in the event that an underage child goes missing during a trip abroad, the hotline can provide assistance everywhere in Europe. The number for the hotline can also be found in the list of services in the 112 Suomi mobile app.