Police officers trained in lost person searches on the moors

Friday, 10 May, 2024

Seventeen police officers underwent a large-scale search and rescue exercise on Dartmoor to successfully become 'lost person' search managers (LPSM).

As part of the exercise, officers had to navigate through different real-life scenarios, deploying and managing resources for the search.

The scenarios included a person who was lost on the moors after going to a rave and taking drugs. A second scenario was to locate a person who had fallen off a rock edge and needed a rope rescue. Another was to locate a wild swimmer who had failed to return home.

Police Search Advisor, Richard Loxton, who supports with the running of the course said: "Whilst we are lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful scenery with plenty of scenic walking routes in Devon and Cornwall, this does mean that every year, people are reported as lost. People become lost for a number of reasons, including errors in navigation, disorientation, and through worsened weather conditions. It's vital for us to find people quickly to keep them safe, particularly during inclement weather conditions when lives can be at risk."

Approximately three people are reported as a high-risk missing person every day to Devon & Cornwall Police. A high-risk missing person is where the risk of serious harm to the individual is likely - this can include a missing person who is suicidal, a young child, or an individual who has dementia.

"That is why it is so important that we train our police constables and sergeants to be able to handle searches safely and effectively across a number of circumstances, terrains and geographic locations. Lost person search managers play such a significant role in achieving positive outcomes in searches for lost and high-risk missing people," Richard Luxton added.

"I'd also like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in running the search and rescue exercise - without the support of our partner agencies we would not be able to pull this off. Over 140 searchers from various organisations provided feet on the ground during the exercise, and the Rapid Relief Team, a charity who provide support to people in emergencies, provided warm food and drinks for everyone involved on the day."

The lost person search manager course, run by Devon & Cornwall Police, takes place once a year. In addition to the seventeen police officers trained, six people from partnership agencies, including HM Coastguard, were successful in passing the course.

The search and rescue exercise took place in Venford. Agencies involved include - Ashburton, Tavistock, North Dartmoor, Plymouth, East Cornwall and West Cornwall Mountain Rescue teams, Mountain Rescue Search Dogs England, Devon and Cornwall 4x4 response, HM Coastguard and Dartmoor National Park Authority.

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