Published: Monday, 19th June 2023
Published on behalf of Norfolk Constabulary:
Sandi Starfish is returning 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.
Inspector Howard Elvidge 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.”
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