Sandi Starfish has returned to Hunstanton and Heacham this summer to help families keep their children safe.
Parents and carers are being encouraged to take a photo of their child as soon as they arrive at the beach on their smartphone or digital camera, and make a note of exactly where they arrived on the beach.
New posters have been put out across the area and include the what3words location of each one. What3words is a simple and precise way to share your location quickly and easily with emergency services.
The beaches have also been divided into separate Sandi Starfish zones as an additional way to help the emergency services locate any children who may be lost.
Inspector Howard Elvidge from Norfolk Constabulary said: “Lots of families visit our beautiful coastline during the summer holidays to enjoy our beautiful beaches. By taking a photo of your child as soon as you arrive you’ll have an up-to-date photo showing exactly what they’re wearing should you need to show it to officers if you become separated.
“Remembering exactly when you accessed the beach and where you’ve been sitting could also be extremely helpful for the emergency services should you need our help. Children do occasionally wander off and although the vast majority of missing children are found very quickly, it is still a traumatic experience.”
Sandi Starfish was launched in 2014 following an idea from Norfolk Constabulary’s former PCSO Sandi Greenacre, who was a valued member of the team in Hunstanton. It’s supported by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.
Inspector Elvidge said: “Sandi saw how distressing it can be when parents and children become separated, and was keen to help families stay safe on the beach. Very sadly, Sandi passed away in 2013 so I’m delighted that this scheme is still helping families and continuing Sandi’s legacy.”
Mark Whitmore, Assistant Director Health, Wellbeing and Public Protection at the borough council, said: “Thankfully we don’t get many lost children, but when it happens, it can be distressing for the parent and child.
“This scheme has been helping reunite lost children with their parents on west Norfolk beaches for many years and I’m pleased that we can support Norfolk Police with their Sandi Starfish campaign once again.”
Kate Craven, Water Safety Officer for the RNLI in North Norfolk, said: “Our coast line is to be enjoyed, our boathouse is open 11-3 Monday to Saturday and visitors see the Station as a beacon to aid in the instance of a missing child. Our Boathouse attendees often see a panicked parent and with the zones clearly marked we can do our bit to signpost to the emergency services to allow the Police and Coastguard to get to the incident really quickly.”
Helpful tips for families planning a trip to the beach also include:
- Familiarise your child with the beach environment – show them where they can and can’t go.
- Agree a meeting point – choose a location on the beach where you agree to meet if you become separated.
- Take a photo of your child on your phone or digital camera as soon as you arrive at the beach. In the event they wander off, you can show the photo to officers so they know who they are looking for. It’s vital to remember what your child is wearing. Bright, eye catching clothing is ideal.
If you become separated:
- Call 999 – a missing child is an emergency.
- Remain calm – stay in the spot where the child last saw you.
- Stay on the phone to emergency services until police arrive.