Inside the Police National Search Centre

Police National Search Centre takes latest trainees through their paces.

The Police National Search Centre, a joint military and police unit with over 25 years' experience, is internationally recognised as the world leader in the development and training of counter-terrorism and search techniques.

Developed after the 1984 Brighton hotel bombing, the centre has trained thousands of officers in techniques that help keep the UK public safe.

Superintendent Tony Ismay, who heads up the centre at Bramshill, said officers attending courses are trained in searching for anything from missing people to looking for improvised explosive devices.

"There are 6,000 licensed search officers in the UK and our centre is the only place that accredits and provides the specialist training for these officers," Supt Ismay said.

There is 13 staff at the centre and the trainers, all who are seconded from forces and the Royal Engineers, have assisted in offering specialist advice to many high-profile cases including the searches for April Jones and Madeleine McCann.

Supt Ismay said: "A huge amount of police work involves searching for missing people, and our expertise is often sought nationally and internationally."

Insp Gary Crowther, a trainer seconded from Norfolk Constabulary, and Sergeant Cliff Jones from Hampshire Constabulary took a group of officers through their paces as part of a five-day Police Search Team (Licensed Search Officer) course last week.

As part of the training, officers applied their training to search an open wood area for devices including a handgun, a grenade and cash. Meanwhile a nearby search house on the College of Policing Bramshill site had materials hidden in the kitchen, dining room and lounge, where officers were tested on their systematic search skills to locate hidden items.

Insp Crowther, who has worked in Royalty Protection conducting venue searches ahead of royal visits in Sandringham, said: "You're always learning in the world of search training. There's never a place that you can't think to check, and that's what we constantly apply to our training - the need to be systematic in your search."

The College runs a variety of search courses:

  • Police Search Team (Licensed Search Officer) - 26 courses scheduled this year so far, each with 24 students and a week in duration.
  • Police Search Advisor (PolSA) - five courses this year, each with 20 students and three weeks long.
  • PolSA Relicense - PolSAs must re-licence every three to five years. Course is three days, delivered at Bramshill, with 12 students each course.
  • Counter-terrorism Security Coordinator - three courses this year, each with 20 students and two weeks long.

For more information about the Police National Search Centre, check out our website's Police search training page.

This article appears in the June 2014 edition of our newsletter - why not subscribe?


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