Tour operators have welcomed an action plan to co-ordinate how holiday reps and hotel staff respond when a child goes missing.

The six-point plan, Code Madeleine, has been compiled by the parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann and the News of the World, with help from the Federation of Tour Operators.

It follows ABTA’s decision to set up, an online account for holidaymakers to store photographs and vital information in case of emergencies.

Code Madeleine relies on parents to provide an up-to-date photograph of their missing child and both operator reps and hotel staff to join initial search efforts, and isolate any suspected crime scene.

FTO director-general Andy Cooper said the first draft of the code put forward had to be changed to ensure its members could comply.

“We had to do a lot of work. It’s a simple process to ensure if the worst happens there are steps to follow. We suggested this was rolled out to hotels as well.”

Cooper urged agents to pass on advice to parents. “Where agents can help is to make sure parents take a photo of their children on holiday. In light of this recent case, it’s about sensible procedures.”


Code Madeleine

The six points of the code are:

  1. Hotel management or operator staff to obtain a photo and detailed description of missing child and assist parents in liaising with police. Parents are recommended to bring an up-to-date photo of their child on holiday.
  2. Designated employee to page Code Madeleine via nearest inhouse telephone to start process of circulating photo/description throughout hotel complex.
  3. Hotel staff, supported by holiday reps, to search public areas and monitor entrances/exits of premises.
  4. If child not found within ten minutes of initial search of public areas, parents to take decision to contact local police. Hotel and operator staff to assist.
  5. Hotel and rep staff to ensure any suspected crime scene is isolated until police arrive.
  6. If child is found with someone other than its parent or legal guardian, reasonable efforts to be made to delay their departure without putting staff or child at risk. Police to be notified with details.