Anorak News | Madeleine McCann: Dial Ofcom 116 To Hear A Calming Voice

Madeleine McCann: Dial Ofcom 116 To Hear A Calming Voice

by | 21st, February 2009

MADDIE WATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann, Kate McCann and Gerry McCann

Which magazine: “European helpline numbers to be launched Easy child helpline and emotional support access”

Home phone and mobile phone regulator Ofcom has confirmed plans to introduce Europe-wide 116 emotional and child helpline phone numbers in the UK.

Caller: Hello, 116 116?
Yes. I’m here to help.
Caller: have you got the number for Jeremy Kyle?

At the moment, many telephone helpline and hotline phone numbers vary across different countries in Europe. This makes it difficult for visitors from other countries to find the right number when they need help or advice.

Bonjour, 116..? Kan ik helpen?

Public concern about child safety has been heightened by cases like the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal.

And since her how many other British children have gone missing in foreign climes? How many children from overseas have gone missing on holiday in the UK? The vanishing of Madeleine McCann was a very rare event. But there for the grace of God, eh. It could be you.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare….

FT: “Phone 116 for emotional support, says Ofcom”

What is emotional support, and you get it from the concierge at your hotel, or the local police, or fellow tourists?

European visitors to the UK who find themselves in need of “emotional support” will be able to call a familiar number to hear a reassuring voice, the communications regulator said on Friday.

And what reassuring action follows the reassuring voice?

The same number will be used for similar services in all countries of the European Union after a European Commission ruling in 2007 that people anywhere in the 27 states should be able to ring a single number knowing they would receive a similar public service.

And so the EU claims another victory. One number. One land mass.

The first three numbers, all of which are free to the user, include 116 123, which will put callers in touch with what Ofcom calls “emotional support helplines”.

The regulator is about to begin a process that will see organisations invited to tender to provide the services but it is likely that the Samaritans will be involved in providing the helpline.

The other free numbers are 116 000, which will give details of missing children and 116 111 for children to ring if they need help.

This sounds useful. But what good calling number if no action follows? Who does the person on the other end of the phone call – a new super police force? 116 Placebo…

Three numbers starting in 116. Can you remember them all? Why not go equipped with the number of the local UK embassy on your phone?

The former was established as a response to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the child who went missing from a holiday resort in Portugal in May 2007. The latter is a service similar to that provided by Childline, the charity…

However, in future, as the European Commission allocated further 116 numbers to other socially useful services that were not quite as important as the first three, it would consider small charges.


Perhaps some good will come of the child’s disappearance. Perhaps a child will call the number and be saved. Perhaps the number will reassure us.

Perhaps… But anything’s worth trying, right?

Posted: 21st, February 2009 | In: Madeleine McCann, Reviews Comments (13) | TrackBack | Permalink