Trans03-04 Press Notice50

New Inquiry: Search and Rescue

New Inquiry: Search and Rescue

The Transport Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into Search and Rescue in the United Kingdom.

This inquiry is inspired by the Committee's continuing concern at the increase in incidents, deaths and accidents around the coast, as highlighted in its Report The Work of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (HC 500), published in July 2004.

The Department for Transport is responsible for civil aeronautical and maritime Search and Rescue policy.  The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) provides the co-ordination service for maritime Search and Rescue.  The Government response to the Committee's report on the MCA (Cmd 6343) emphasised the role of the Auxiliary Coastguard Service, whose volunteer members form the Coastguard's response teams.  Other bodies are also involved:  for example, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) provides lifeboat fleets and crews; and the Ministry of Defence exercises responsibility for civil aeronautical Search and Rescue on behalf of the Department for Transport.

In particular, the Committee's inquiry will examine the following questions:

•How effective are the UK's Search and Rescue co-ordination arrangements?

•Do Search and Rescue organisations receive the resources, equipment and training they need to perform their tasks effectively and efficiently?

•How does the voluntary nature of some of the Search and Rescue organisations affect the objectives and targets which are fixed for Departments and Agencies with Search and Rescue responsibilities, and their ability to meet those targets?

•How dependent is the UK on voluntary organisations for the provision of Search and Rescue services?

•How do the UK's Search and Rescue arrangements compare with those in other countries?

•What improvements could be made to the UK's Search and Rescue arrangements?

This list of questions is not exhaustive.  Interested parties are welcome to draw to the attention of the Committee other Search and Rescue concerns in written memoranda (see below).  The Committee is aware that the police service co-ordinates land-based and inland waters Search and Rescue operations, and that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for providing Search and Rescue facilities in military circumstances.  However, this inquiry is likely to focus on those Search and Rescue arrangements which are most relevant to the responsibilities of the Department for Transport.

Interested parties are invited to submit written memoranda to the Committee before Friday 21 January 2005.  If you wish to request that your memorandum be treated in confidence, please contact the Committee Clerk in advance.

Memoranda should be a maximum of 6 A4 pages in length.

Please submit a single hard copy of your memorandum by post to the above address, and an electronic version (in ASCII, Word or Word Perfect format) preferably by e-mail to or alternatively on a disk with the hard copy.  If you are unable to submit an electronic version of your memorandum, please take particular care to ensure that your submission is legible.

All submissions should be final and complete; the Committee does not accept draft memoranda or subsequent amendments.  Memoranda submitted to the Committee should be kept confidential until published by the Committee.

If you would prefer future press notices to be sent via email rather than post please email your address to

Press Notice  50/2003-04   18 November 2004

Eve Samson, Clerk of the Committee