Published: Thursday, 29th July 2021
Published on behalf of Norfolk Constabulary:
Sandi Starfish is returning to Heacham and Hunstanton 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.
Families may also like to consider using the innovative technology what3words, which provides a simple and precise way to share your location quickly and easily with emergency services.
Inspector Diana Woodage said: "Lots of families visit our beautiful coastline during the summer holidays to enjoy our beautiful beaches.
"By taking a photo on your phone or digital camera 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 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 Woodage 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.”
Cllr Brian Long, Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, said: "This is an excellent scheme and I would urge parents to take a few minutes to take the photos, so that should their child wander off they can be more easily identified and returned, saving a lot of stress and worry for all involved. We wholeheartedly support the use of this police-led scheme on our beaches this summer.”
There isn't a wristband scheme in operation again this year.
As part of this popular seaside scheme, the coastal area from South Beach in Heacham to Holme-next-the-Sea is being divided into 10 Sandi Starfish Zones. Details of the zones have been shared with the constabulary's Contact and Control Room, Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, HM Coastguard and the RNLI.
What3words has divided the world into 3m x 3m squares and converted complex GPS coordinates into unique three-word addresses. The system has been integrated into Norfolk Constabulary's Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. More information on what3words is available at www.what3words.com.
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.