Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach met volunteers behind the county’s specialist search and rescue service as he handed over a two-year funding grant to help expand its work.
The PCC has agreed to invest a total of £35,000 into Leicestershire Search and Rescue (LeicSAR) over the next two years to fund the development of a new mobile Incident Command Unit.
The lowland search and rescue unit, run exclusively by volunteers, provides specialist resources to the police and other emergency services in the search and rescue of vulnerable and missing people across Leicestershire and neighbouring counties when necessary.
Missing persons’ enquiries consume vast levels of policing resources. The specialist skills and training of the team enhances the resilience of Leicestershire’s overstretched frontline, ensuring vulnerable members of the community are located quickly and safely.
The grant, which is being awarded from the PCC’s Prevention Fund as part of his long-term community safety strategy, will help to fund a high-quality, fully-equipped command and control facility through the conversion of a light commercial van.
The PCC met representatives from LeicSAR at Leicestershire Police’s Headquarters in Enderby to find out more about its vital work and how the new command unit will increase its capabilities.
He said: “It’s no secret that policing resources have shrunk considerably during the austerity years and any project which helps our frontline police officers cope with the serious pressures and demands placed upon them to keep people safe has to be welcomed.
“LeicSAR does a sterling job and without its expertise, support and technical capabilities, the job of safely recovering vulnerable missing people in Leicestershire would be far more challenging.
“At a time when budgets are severely restricted, LeicSAR enables us to maintain a strong level of response to people in need while limiting the impact on neighbourhood policing. The value this service brings to Leicestershire is immeasurable and I will do all I can to support its work.”
LeicSAR’s existing ex-prison service vehicle, which has been in use since the team launched in 2011, is no longer fit for purpose while the on-board equipment currently in use is degenerating with age.
The project will take two years to complete and will ensure LeicSAR can maintain its critical support to Leicester Police and protect vulnerable people.
Ian Silver, LeicSAR’s fundraising officer, said: “Leicestershire Search and Rescue is delighted to receive funding to develop a new Incident Command Unit, which will provide us with an efficient and effective resource to aid our missing person searches in the future, improving the service we offer to Leicestershire Police, the missing person and their family, and the wider community.
“Our objective is always to find the missing person safe and well at the earliest opportunity and this will mean that we have the best tools at our disposal to achieve that aim.
“We look forward to working with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to successfully deliver this project.”
In 2014-15, the UK Missing Persons Bureau reported that Leicestershire Police dealt with 2,388 missing person incidents involving 1,571 individuals.
The cost per missing person investigation is estimated to be in the region of £2,415 and requires at the very least a minimum of 36 officers’ duty hours per 48-hour search.
With Leicestershire losing 547 police officers since 2009 and enduring budget cuts of some £38m over the past decade, the need for reinforcement and support from partners has never been more urgent.
The grant, which will deliver £25,000 in 2017-18 and £10,000 in 2018-19, supports the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan priority to protect the vulnerable, including those missing from home. The new facility will improve the team’s ability to locate missing people, reducing the risk of exploitation, illness or accident while also reducing policing costs.
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Posted on Monday 5th March 2018