DRONES are set to be deployed in more missing persons investigations in Lancashire as part of a joint fire service and police initiative.

Extra training is being offered to firefighters at the county's 'on-call' fire stations as part of a joint missing persons trial scheme between the two emergency services.

Fire chiefs say their specialist drone team has been requested by the police more than 220 times within the last 12 months - most were for missing persons cases.

'On-call' stations are located across East Lancashire including Clitheroe, Barnoldswick, Earby, Padiham, Great Harwood and Colne. On-call fire crews also work out of Darwen, Rawtenstall and Bacup stations.

Deputy chief fire officer Steve Healey said in a fire authority planning committee report: "The missing persons project is being enhanced further with the aim of training teams from several ‘on-call’ stations within Lancashire.

"The locations are identified from data and analysis which has shown where people are most likely to go missing from home, and where Lancashire Constabulary's resources are limited.

"This enables Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service's (LFRS) specialist teams to search familiar ground in reduced time and improve the likelihood of a positive outcome.

"This training develops the knowledge of what is required by Lancashire Constabulary in the management of a missing from home incident including intelligence gathering, record keeping, search areas, and ensuring a crime scene isn’t contaminated.

"Training is also planned for the contact centre staff in LanCon to increase their knowledge of LFRS’ search capabilities.

Mr Healey also confirmed a 'memorandum of understanding' was being developed to promote a framework which would support the "collaborative use" of fire service and police drones.

The deputy chief fire officer reported that the two services were also still looking at possible opportunities to co-locate police and fire stations over the next five to 10 years and train up more firefighters as 'first responders' for the ambulance service.