§ Mr. David Martin
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made with the establishment of local coastal search and rescue committees since his announcement of 9 March 1992; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Norris
The chief coastguard has now reached agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, on the guidelines for the establishment of what will be called local search and rescue (SAR) committees. It is hoped that a similar agreement will soon be reached with the association for Scotland.
The committees, jointly chaired by HM coastguard and police, will provide a consultative body to consider co-ordination problems on the shoreline, improved liaison between interested authorities, and to assess the availability, readiness, and effectiveness of rescue resources. Such requirements are already embodied within a memorandum of understanding between HM coastguard and the police.
As far as practicable the jurisdiction of the committees will align with police force boundaries. Membership will comprise representatives of the emergency services, Royal National Lifeboat Institution—RNLI—Ministry of Defence helicopter bases, county and district council officials, harbour and port authorities, and recognised voluntary rescue services such as the Royal Life Saving Society—RLSS—and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents—RoSPA. Additional members may be co-opted from time to time as necessary.
Local search and rescue committees will be independent of my Department's district marine safety committees but will liaise as necessary with them on matters of mutual interest and concern.
A copy of the joint coastguard and police document, "Guidelines for the Establishment of Local Search and Rescue Committees" will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.