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The outstanding work of volunteer search and rescue teams, protecting missing and vulnerable people all across West Mercia will continue with financial support from the Police and Crime Commissioner.

In the last year 2,744 people were reporting missing, costing West Mercia Police in excess of £6,500,000.*

The PCC’s investments of £60,000 in West Mercia Search and Rescue (WMSAR) and £18,000 in Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) will give them a base and equipment, allowing the volunteers to focus their efforts where needed most- searching for missing people, promoting water safety and responding during major incidents, such as the current flooding.

Commissioner John Campion said “Both teams do outstanding work, with skilled professional volunteers devoting hours of their own time to help those most at risk.

The investments I have made are a small contribution which allow these unpaid professionals to dedicate themselves to keeping people safe. Their efforts not only help the public but reduce the workload for police and other emergency services.

I am keen to see the water safety work through Home and Dry continue to develop, and to support both teams, who make a selfless contribution to our communities.”

Andy Macauley, Chair of Trustees at WMSAR said “This investment from the PCC enables us to provide a greater visible presence in the community and a much better service to vulnerable people in their time of crisis.

We look forward to seeking out new ways of promoting preventive community safety messaging through the Home and Dry campaign whilst maintaining effective, sustainable and valuable rescue provision to those in need.”

Richard Newhouse, Fundraising Officer at SARA said “We are really looking to use the grant money to support strengthening the capabilities we already provide, adding some more qualified people with appropriate equipment and replacing some equipment which is at or close to its end-of-life. This very welcome grant reduces the pressure on operational volunteers to fundraise, and allows them to focus on providing rescue services.”

Missing People (April 2020-April 2021)

Between April 2020 and April 2021, there were 2,744 missing person reports made to West Mercia Police.

The average cost of a missing person investigation is £2,400. If a helicopter is deployed the average cost is £8,000.

60-65% of missing people cases involve children.

50% of missing people reports were repeat cases.

West Mercia Search and Rescue

In the last 5 years, team members gave 33,000 voluntary hours, including 230 callouts for missing people and flood rescue. The PCC’s £60,000 investment will cover the team’s rent and insurance for three years.

Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA)

Last year SARA responded to 26 callouts within West Mercia, and 113 across its whole area. The PCC’s £18,000 investment over three years will be used to grow and upskill the team and invest in new equipment to support rapid and effective deployment. This will include growing the team of available trained water rescuers based in West Mercia from 28 to 40, and flood-qualified helms from 4 to 12.

For more information on the Home and Dry campaign click here.