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Police practice search and rescue at Mothecombe

SA Updated
Police practice search and rescue at Mothercombe

On Saturday, Devon & Cornwall Police led a multi-agency search and rescue exercise designed to train the next generation of officers to find missing people in Devon, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly.

The week-long Lost Person Search Manager (LPSM) course culminated in a live exercise involving 150 individuals from partner agencies and volunteers across the South West at Mothecombe Beach, near Holbeton.

The LPSM course is designed to give police constables and sergeants the knowledge and confidence to run and manage the search for a missing person. The officers use statistical data and mapping to assist in locating the missing person as quickly and safely as possible.

The training concluded with three real-life scenarios where the students had to deploy and manage search resources for the search and rescue exercise. The first exercise was that of a vulnerable man who had been reported missing. The casualty, who was played by a serving officer, was located in the afternoon by mountain rescue assets.

The second scenario was that of a woman who had gone searching for the missing man and then fallen over the cliff. HM Coastguard and police rope access teams descended the cliff and raised the woman back to safety.

The third exercise was to locate a vulnerable woman and her carer. They were located in woodland next to the River Yealm with significant injuries so the officers had to work with mountain rescue colleagues to carry them to safety on a stretcher across challenging terrain.

Those assisting with the exercise included the National Police Air Service helicopter, the police drone unit, Devon & Cornwall 4x4 Response, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Hope Cove Lifeboat, and mountain rescue groups from Plymouth, Exmoor and East Cornwall. This gave a truly immersive test on how to manage a search and rescue operation with partners working together seamlessly.

Eighteen students were successful in the course and will go on to the next stage of the training, where they can manage real-life missing people incidents under the supervision of a qualified mentor.

PC Richard Loxton, Police Search Adviser in the Specialist Search Unit, said: “The Lost Person Search Manager skill training is leading the way in missing people training. Everyone involved benefited massively from the experience.

“I’d like to say thank you to all the partners who worked together in this joint exercise to give the officers the tools to manage large scale missing person search and rescue operations.

“It truly was a joint effort from everyone involved and I’d like to extend our thanks to Flete Estates who kindly allowed us to use their land and Rapid Relief (Plymouth) who provided all the catering free of charge.”


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