Two-day Educational Seminars - 7-8 September 2021 by “The Smile of the Child” on the critical issue of missing minors & adults
Athens, 9 September 2021
Two-day Educational Seminars - 7-8 September 2021 by “The Smile of the Child”
on the critical issue of missing minors & adults
"The search for missing minors and adults.
What can Police authorities & the co-competent actors do"
The training took place under the RADAR programme (REC-AG-2019 / REC-RDAP-GBV-AG-2019) co-funded by the European Union programme on rights, equality and Citizenship (2014-2020)
● President of the BoD of “The Smile of the Child”, Costas Yannopoulos: We developed and set at the disposal of the competent bodies, both certified tools, as well as - for the first time in Greece - a wide network of 150 partners who achieve maximum possible coverage by communicating missing people cases with every possible means available.
● Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA), General Konstantinos Floros: A predetermined framework of cooperation based on coordination and mutual exchange of information is imperative to achieve immediate and effective mobilization of all competent bodies.
● Chief of the Hellenic Police Lieutenant General Michael Karamalakis: We will appoint 2 executives of the Hellenic Police in each General Police Regional Directorate, who will be specialized in managing issues concerning children protection issues, such as abuse, disappearance, etc.
● Commanding Officer Missing Person Unit, Belgian Federal Police, Alain Remue: The three rules for managing missing persons are,
1. Every disappearance is unique & different, even if it concerns the same person. Routine kills. Nothing should ever be taken for granted.
2. The first 24 hours are critical in any disappearance.
3. "Never say never." Often the obvious is overturned.
"The Smile of the Child" held training seminars titled "The search for missing minors and adults. What can the police authorities & the co-competent actors do" on 7-8 September 2021 at the New Panhellenic Coordinating Operational Center for immediate Social and Medical Intervention “Andreas Yannopoulos” of the Organization at Agia Paraskevi. The training was organized for the officers of the Armed Forces, the Hellenic Police, the National Emergency Aid Center, the Fire Brigade, and the Municipal Police.
Greetings were addressed by the Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy in Greece, the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, the Chief of the Hellenic Police. the Director of the Maritime Border Security and Protection, Directorate of the Hellenic Coast Guard and the Commander of the integrated Coordination Center of the Fire Brigade.
Key speakers of the seminars were leading experts in the field of missing people, in particular:
● Mr. Alain Remue, Commanding Officer Missing Person Unit, Belgian Federal Police
● Ms. Leslie Adamczyk, FBI SSA, Crimes Against Children & Human Trafficking Unit, FBI & The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
● Ms. Kelly Bletsis, FBI SSA, FBI Liaison to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
● Ms. Leemie Kahng-Sofer, Director, Missing Children Division, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
● Ms. Cole Crosby, FBI SSA Crimes Against Children & Human Trafficking Unit
On behalf of “The Smile of the Child” the key note speakers were
● Mr. Stefanos Alevizos, Psychologist & Coordinator of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
● Mr. Konstantinos Kalfountzos, Field Operations Coordinator
On the first day of the seminars (7/9/2021) high-ranking executives of the Hellenic Police were trained.
On the second day (8/9/2021), the seminar was attended by 303 officers of the Armed Forces remotely, the Hellenic Police, the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (Geetha), the National Emergency Aid Center (EKAV), the Fire Brigade, and the Municipal Police of the municipalities that are actively involved in the search operations for missing children and adults.
"25 years of our Organization “The Smile of the Child”. For 25 years, in addition to our actions, we have been standing next to every missing child, and for the last two years next to every missing adult. Human life is precious. The more we participate in this immense effort, the better. In our organization we have as a principle to supplement the work of institutions in benefit of our society. Our goal is to integrate good practices, learn from mistakes and improve conditions and procedures in matters of disappearances. In this direction, and in absolute accordance with international directives, today we have developed and made available to the authorities, both certified tools, and - for the first time in Greece - a wide network of 150 partners (airports, highways, Metro, Bank ATMs, etc.) who communicate disappearances through every possible means at their disposal, achieving the maximum possible disclosure. At the same time, we are proud of our cooperation with the Municipal Police who got activated nationwide. Greece has great potential and through its know-how and appropriate synergies makes us stand out in Europe in matters of disappearances." stressed the President of the Board of “The Smile of the Child” Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, emphasizing on the need to exchange experience, knowledge and good practices in the context of continuous improvement.
The Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection, Mr. Eleftherios Oikonomou stated: "The uninterrupted presence and great contribution of the Organization "The Smile of the Child " in the critical area of disappearances of minors and adults in our country continues; this time with seminars addressed to Police Officers, the Armed Forces, the Hellenic Greek Coast Guard, the Fire Brigade and the National Emergency Aid Center (EKAV). This cooperation constitutes an additional practical proof of the state/society relationship with "The Smile of the Child" in response to the new challenges that daily arise regarding the disappearance of individuals in Greece.
The Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy in Greece, Mr. David Burger, noted: “The U.S. government places a high priority on ensuring the safety and security of children and missing persons, and we are deeply committed to protecting all people from crime and exploitation. These are matters requiring our collective efforts and vigilance, and everyone here has a key role to play.”
The Chief the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA), General Konstantinos Floros stressed: "People going missing is a sad reality and global problem, which unfortunately shows an increasing trend in Greek society as well. There is an urgent need for immediate and effective mobilization of all competent bodies within a predetermined framework of cooperation based on coordination and two-way information. I want to emphasize the educational benefit of the seminar in terms of better management of cases of disappearance of minors and adults, as well as the valuable assistance of technology in this issue, bringing as an example the innovative application Missing Alert of the "smile of the child" that enables active participation in the effort to find missing persons. The Armed Forces maintain excellent relationships over time with “to smile of the child”. Congratulations to both the Board of Directors and the staff of the organization for the initiative of organizing the seminar with the expectation that the participants will gain valuable knowledge and skills on the sensitive issue of finding our missing fellow human beings".
The Chief of the Hellenic Police, Lieutenant General Michael Karamalakis, stressed: "The Hellenic Police have concluded a memorandum of cooperation with “The Smile of the Child" that crowns a cooperation based on synergies and mutual assistance. In the particularly demanding field of disappearances of adults and minors, international standards and models are applied in terms of search methodology to achieve early, rapid and methodical research through the existence of coordinated actions. I am confident that this two-day training course will enhance the skills and strengthen the role of our executives. I would like to thank Mr. Yannopoulos personally for the concept and the implementation, but also for the decisive contribution to the detection of cases of missing persons, but also for their subsequent moral, psychological and social reinforcement and integration."
Mr. Alain Remue, Commanding Officer Missing Person Unit, Belgian Federal Police, stressed: “What I've understood over the years that I've been privileged to do this job is that bad news is often better than no news at all. The families of the missing people need to know what happened to their people. It is quite possible that at this time somewhere in Greece a strange man is walking and has in mind to do harm to a child. We can't prevent it. We can only be ready and alert to react."
Ms. Leslie Adamczyk, Special Agent, Crimes Against Children & Human Trafficking Unit, noted: “Most child abductions are opportunistic, the victim was not targeted, but simply happened to be at the wrong time and place, vulnerable and available to the offender's appetites. That is why most disappearances occur in ordinary places, such as courtyards, streets, parks. The primary goal is sexual abuse. "Strange" neighbours unfortunately prove to the usual suspects who are found guilty”.
Ms. Kelly Bletsis, Special Agent, FBI Liaison to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, stated: “FBI personnel are working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Anti-Trafficking Team to investigate reports, identify the location and support the immediate recovery of children suspected to be involved in trafficking cases. This cooperation is not exhausted in the effort to immediately locate missing children, but also concerns old cases with long-term missing children.”
Ms. Leemie Kahng-Sofer, Director of Case Management at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Missing Children Division, stressed: “Our mission is to find missing children and in addition to local we also handle international cases. Our partnership with federal partners plays an important role in our success. Our operations to help combat child trafficking are carried out with the valuable cooperation of the FBI. We always act with the permission and under the coordination of the relevant law enforcement authority responsible for handling each case.”
Mr. Cole Crosby, FBI Special Agent, Crimes Against Children & Human Trafficking Unit, noted: «Sextortion is increasing more significantly than any other form of online child exploitation. Sextortiion perpetrators may spend as much as 6 hours a day searching for victims. They have a substantial amount of children listed in their contacts on social network sites and they keep meticulous notes on these victims or contacts. They rapidly shift from grooming to upfront sexualized conversations, abandoning the traditional “time consuming” processes. It is very important that offenders reported if a child did not respond to their online initiations, the offender would move on to another child. Perpetrators who manage to open communication with children may threaten them longer than 6 months, or even come back to victims with a different fake account if they get blocked.”
More about Amber Alert Hellas and the participants here
Photo Gallery here
More on the RADAR Project here.
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