New ‘safe zones’ will help protect children

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THE sense of panic when you look round and see your child has disappeared from your side could become a thing of the past when a new scheme launches in Hemel Hempstead.

Special wristbands are to be handed out and ‘child safe zones’ are being created across the town centre in a bid to cut the tally of youngsters who get lost each month – currently standing at five in Marlowes Shopping Centre alone.

At the moment it takes around 15 to 20 minutes to reunite lost children with their parents but organisers believe this can be slashed by the new scheme.

Coordinator Jill Garratt said: “They have all been reunited but it takes time and children become stressed.”

Under the scheme – being organised by Dacorum Business Against Crime (DBAC) – children will wear wristbands bearing their parent’s mobile phone number while shops will be encouraged to become safe zones with a special poster in the window.

If a child becomes separated they will be able to recognise the balloon logo of a safe zone and go in, where the shopkeeper will then contact their parents.

The bands will be available from various town centre locations and talks are taking place with around half a dozen venues.

DBAC are also hoping to spread the scheme across the borough to Berkhamsted and Tring.

A launch takes place on July 23 at the bandstand in Marlowes where wristbands will be available with activities for children, giveaways and a visit from the mayor.

Jill said: “It’s about educating parents that there is a way of keeping their children safe.

“If they’re having a coffee and their child wanders off they will be safer with a wristband than without.”