BSAR assists Thames Valley Police with typically over 20 searches per year. All volunteers receive training in basic search techniques. Past incidents include searching for Alzheimer’s disease sufferers and missing children.

We can field a team of as many as 20 trained searchers in around an hour, using a rapid SMS service. Because of their level of training our volunteers can be deployed within minutes of arriving on scene.

Although police can provide a very rapid response when a vulnerable person goes missing, their numbers will be limited for many hours because of continuing commitments elsewhere. Many of you will have seen large number of members of the public, or the army, involved in high-profile searches, but these operations take days to organise.

BSAR usually run their own control vehicle which provides radio communications, a mobile office, and a store for specialised equipment. BSAR usually work under the direction of a police search adviser (POLSA), but also have qualified Search Controllers who can allocate search areas and interview relatives if requested by the police.

Searches may last for many hours and can start at any time of the day or night.

Climbing practice

Searching derelict buildings


BSAR’s Rescue training means that in the event of a major incident we would be in a position to assist front-line emergency services as required. Rescue skills also expand our Search capabilities. For example, after a successful woodland search, we are able to extract a casualty by stretcher to the nearest road or helicopter access point. BSAR can also search quarries, steep woodland slopes or building sites.

BSAR’s main areas of Rescue training are:

Search, Water Rescue And Flood Response – We are primarily trained as foot teams to search for vulnerable missing persons. We are also trained in water rescue and flood response.

Heights Access – Most volunteers are trained in using harnesses and ropes to traverse steep slopes. BSAR practise stretcher recovery from difficult locations such as steep wooded slopes or quarries. This aspect of Rescue training is particularly useful during Search operations.