People have always gone missing. The reasons have been varied. Some people go walking and just ‘get lost’, there are instances where people intentionally go missing, and there have even been cases of foul play.

For missing people near or on the coast or in the sea, the Coastguard would be called. This can apply equally to boats as it does to individuals.

For the Coastguard, we receive information from our control centres, who speak directly with Cumbria police. They then task the Coastguard rescue teams to liaise with the police on the ground.

The most important piece of information is where the person was last seen. The police have algorithms that are used with ages, sexes, habits and interests enable a prediction to be made as to where best to concentrate a search.

These search areas are circular and use objects as roads, parks, footpaths, shops as areas that may guide a lost person.

For the coastal environment things can be a little more complex. As an example, should someone fall over and cannot get up in a wood, they (usually) remain where they have fallen.

If someone falls on a beach, the tide may come in, they may be swept out to sea and perhaps turn up many miles from the first location. Tides and coastal currents need to be factored in.

The circular search area described above still applies but additional assets need to be brought in.

The Coastguard would task the RNLI and Independent Inshore Rescue Services. We also have the rescue helicopters available. These can quickly scan large areas at day or night, but are not always available as they may be on callouts elsewhere.

Inter-service working is a big thing now. We regularly both respond and train with Cumbria Fire and Rescue, RNLI, independent lifeboats and the police to ensure that no stone is left unturned when looking for a missing friend or family member. The training has evolved and is very similar in all organisations, it is now almost a science in itself!

We all receive very similar search training and have one common goal – to search, to rescue, to save.