POOLE lifeboats launched fewer times last year but rescued more people compared to 2011, the latest figures reveal.

RNLI volunteers helped 146 people in 2012, compared to 126 the previous year. However, in 2011 the town’s all-weather and inshore lifeboats launched 140 times, compared to just 109 last year.

Crews from Poole - the busiest lifeboat station in the south west - spent 1,298 hours at sea and took part in 41 night time rescues in 2012.

RNLI regional operations manager Andy Hurley said: “The figures illustrate just how dedicated our volunteer crews and our lifeguards are, giving a huge amount of time to saving lives at sea and I thank them and their families for their continuing commitment.

“Call-outs to sailing and power boats with machinery failure are still our core business in the south west, but I’m delighted to say the numbers are down which I hope means our prevention messages are getting through to people before they go onto the water.”

Meanwhile, RNLI lifeguards dealt with 1,163 incidents, assisted 1,238 people and saved two lives on Bournemouth beaches in 2012.

On Poole’s beaches they responded to 486 incidents, assisting 528 people and saving one life, the statistics show.

Mr Hurley said: “I would also like to thank all those who support our charity because their donations ensure our teams have the best training and equipment.”

RNLI crews in Swanage launched 54 times in 2012, compared to 86 occasions the previous year. They also assisted 55 people compared to 51 respectively.

The RNLI’s annual SOS fundraising day takes place on January 25.