Police National Search Centre

Police National Search Centre takes latest trainees through their paces.

The Police National Search Centre, (PNSC) is a joint military and police resourced unit with over 32 years' of operational, search training experience [Established 1986] it is internationally recognised as the world leader in the development and training of Counter-Terrorism, Serious Crime and High Risk Missing Person search techniques.

Developed in 1986 after the 1984 Brighton hotel bombing, the centre has trained thousands of officers in Search techniques that assist in keeping the UK public safe.

Superintendent Steve Woliter, at The College of Policing, Ryton on Dunsmore, Coventry, said "officers attending courses are trained in all disciplines of search inclusive of Counter Terrorist, Defensive and Offensive search, Serious Crime and High Risk Missing Persons" "There are in excess of 6,000 licensed search officers and 650+ Police Search Advisors in the UK and the PNSC is the sole provider for search accreditation and training delivery for Police Forces and other Government Law Enforcement Agencies,"

There are 10 full time staff at the centre and the trainers, all of whom are seconded from UK Police Forces and the Royal Engineers, Defence EOD, Munitions & Search Training Regiment. This team also provide specialist advice to high-profile cases including the searches for April Jones, Madeleine McCann, Ben Needham and more recently Corrie McKeague. The team provides over 200 years of operational search experience as both searchers and advisors.

Supt Woliter said: "The greatest proportion of police search involves High Risk Missing People, and our expertise is often sought nationally and internationally."

As part of the training programme, officers apply their training to search for component parts of Improvise Explosive Devices (IED's), evidence of terrorist activity including documentation, in vehicles and buildings and open areas.

Insp Phil Bradley said, "The world of search is as diverse as any aspect of policing and offers trained officers a unique insight into areas of policing, that few regular officers have the opportunity to visit. The documentation, planning and implementation of tried and tested systematic procedures provides a very high level of assurance for Senior Investigating Officers, attending VIP delegates and Gold Commanders, that events they are responsible for or crimes they are investigating are supported to the highest degree of assurance.

The College runs a variety of search courses

  • Police Search Team (Licensed Search Officer) - 31 courses per year, each with 24 students and a week in duration.
  • Police Search Advisor (PolSA) - 4 courses per year, each with 25 students and four weeks in duration (from 2018).
  • PolSA Relicense – 10 courses per year PolSAs must re-licence every three to five years. Delivered at Ryton on Dunsmore, with 12/14 students each course and three days in duration.
  • Counter-Terrorism Security Coordinator - four courses per year, each with 24 students and two weeks in duration. International courses are also delivered both in country and at other college sites.

The PNSC has a very full schedule of training events providing 70-75 weeks of training in each calendar year, in the period 2017/18, in excess of 1300 officers and partner agency Law Enforcement Agency staff, ranging from Constable to Chief Inspectors, licensed to operate as UK search personnel. This is anticipated to increase and continue for the foreseeable future.

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?

Page updated September 2018


The College of Policing uses cookies to collect and analyse information about the users of this website. We use this information to enhance the content and other services available on the site. By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing for us to set a small number of cookies. You can manage your preferences for Cookies at any time, for more information please see our Cookies Policy.