Police and Fire services working together to find missing people
Hertfordshire’s Police and Fire and Rescue Service are to work closer together to find vulnerable missing people.

This formal arrangement is the result of an agreement signed between the two services to collaborate more extensively.

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd and County Council Leader David Williams signed a protocol after a meeting of the recently formed Hertfordshire Emergency Services Collaboration Board.

When asked by the Police, Fire and Rescue Service resources will be used to assist searches including specialist equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, drones, high level platforms, boats and the Service’s command vehicle.

Last week Police and Fire Service personnel and Mr Lloyd visited St Albans Fire Station to inspect and learn about the equipment.

David Lloyd said: “This collaboration on searching for vulnerable missing people, often children or the elderly, is a positive step forward which will make a real difference across the county.

“On average, two high- risk people go missing in Hertfordshire every day. Closer collaboration between the emergency services is one of our priorities.

"It makes sense for everyone that they are as effective and efficient as possible. We are starting to see the benefits and are working on other areas including a joint headquarters and training.”

David Williams said: "Our firefighters use a range of specialist equipment and technology, including drones, to respond to different emergencies.

“This is another area of collaboration where the Police and Fire Service continue to work together to improve how the county keeps its residents healthy and safe.

“At this time of year, as the temperatures plummet, missing people are more vulnerable than ever. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to support the police in resolving incidents that may pose a threat to life as quickly as possible.”

Last year to a total of 5,235 people were reported missing in the county, made up of 708 high risk, 4,114 medium and 413 low risk.

While the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service have been working together for several years on searches on an informal basis, this new agreement formalises the process, including further communication and training.

Many of the missing people reports come from calls from concerned family members, and in some instances external professional partners such as hospitals, social services and the East of England Ambulance Service.

The Fire and Rescue Service have a water rescue team, specialist water equipment, a command vehicle, thermal imaging, and rope access teams. Personnel are trained in search techniques to locate people who may have become trapped or lost within the confines of a building or other structure.

Last year an agreement on the future collaboration arrangements between emergency services in Hertfordshire was agreed by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the County Council.

The formal arrangement set out a number of principles to strengthen joint working which can be pursued under the existing governance structures.

Both the County Council and PCC agreed to explore opportunities for further collaboration including those presented through the next iteration of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s operational plan, known as the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP).

These include better use of estates, including co-locating police and fire headquarters, a joint training base, shared use of drones and a better response structure in cases where both services are needed.