At 2230hrs on the 8th December 2000 during one of our regional training weekends, members of Southern Region IRC were asked by Avon and Somerset Police to provide a team for a missing person’s search within the Bristol area.

Mr. Hancock went missing at 1000hrs on the 8th December 2000 in the Knowle area of Bristol.

Mr. Hancock is wheelchair-bound and is unable to speak so communication would be via a light pen. His wheelchair was an electronic version capable of covering some distance.

Our contact name within Avon and Somerset Police was Inspector Salmon who, via his sergeant, asked us to search the river and riverbank at Nethan, part of the feeder for the River Avon.

At 2300hrs we arrived at Nethan Bridge to collect a police radio from the two police constables waiting for our arrival.

Search Phase
At 2310hrs we started our search westwards along the feeder. Two members of the team were mobilised to collect the boat and ancillary equipment.

At 0125hrs the boat was launched and proceeded to search the feeder, using the Thermal Imaging Camera, up to the floating harbours (between 1-1.5km of waterway). Meanwhile, a search on foot was conducted following the banks of the feeder utilising a Thermal Imaging Camera.

The River Avon was in full spate; the Feeder itself was flowing much slower and didn’t prove a problem to our boat crew.

We were stood down at 0340hrs and returned our police radio to the RVP. The team made its way back to the Operations Room at the Hot Fire Training Building within Brislington Fire Station, Avon Fire Brigade.

We followed up our offer of help on the morning of the 9th December 2000 and we were told that Mr. Hancock was still missing and IRC would be mobilised again if any searching was necessary. I placed the team on standby ready to mobilise if necessary, but carried on with the training weekend.

Police divers found Mr. Hancock’s body a few days later.

Rob Davis – Team Leader – IRC Southern Region Training Officer

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