THE volunteers who help police search for missing people were given a £20,000 to buy a new van.

Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue (OxSAR) received the generous donation from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) to buy a new Incident Control Vehicle.

The team uses its van as a centre of operations when searching for vulnerable and missing people.

OxSAR volunteers have helped with a number of high-profile cases recently, including the search for Witney pensioner Derek West in November.

The team uses their van to hold all the necessary equipment for specialised searches including water rescue in river or floodwaters.

In an announcement about the donation, the team said their new Ford Transit was a ‘modern, reliable vehicle with cutting edge search management technology’ and put OxSAR ‘at the forefront of search and rescue operations in the UK’.

They said the van had more space for vital medical and rescue equipment and two workstations for a search manager and operations manager.

Chairman Jonathan Stevenson-Paul said: “We are delighted with the generous grant from SSEN which allowed us to purchase this new, state-of-the-art van.

“This will allow us to be more efficient, improve the workflow within the team, saving more lives. It will further support the work and dedication of our outstanding volunteer team.”

Lucy Anderson, SSEN customer relationship manager, added: “It’s great to see the SSEN Resilient Communities Fund being used to purchase a vehicle that will bring so much benefit to the local community.”