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Norfolk's nearest police helicopter to be based in Essex – Crime …

Norfolk s nearest police helicopter to be based in Essex


Police helicopter

Police helicopter

Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent1
Friday, February 20, 2015

4:06 PM

Norfolk s nearest police helicopter is set to be moved from Wattisham and based in Essex due to budget cuts.

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter which serves Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies is currently based at Wattisham but will be moved in 2016/17, meaning the nearest police helicopter will be in Boreham, Essex.

The announcement comes as NPAS confirmed plans to move to a 15-base model across the country as part of cost-cutting measures.

Norfolk s deputy police and crime commissioner Jenny McKibben said: When we heard this news we sought reassurances from Norfolk Constabulary and have indeed been reassured that the county has and will continue to have necessary air cover.

However we will ask for an update on the latest situation and any potential implications at our next public meeting with the constabulary in March.

Norfolk Constabulary said it would not be commenting on the announcement.

Over the last 12 months NPAS Wattisham has located 108 suspects, assisted in 158 searches and recovered nearly 900,000 of property.

Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, accountable manager for NPAS, said: NPAS needs to find further substantial financial savings with a target of 14pc of revenue cuts over the next three years.

This is on top of the 23pc savings already made. Local police forces facing similar savings are looking at how they rationalise their estate and ways of operating and NPAS is no different in this regard.

There is no easy way of doing this and difficult decisions have to be made.

On Thursday (19 February) the National Police Air Service Strategic Board therefore decided to move to the 15-base model.

This move will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the service and mean that every base supports police forces 24hours a day.

It is a move based on an analysis of potential threat, risk and harm to the public we serve. Part of the move will also see four fixed-wing aircraft form part of the fleet. These will be based out of the East Midlands Airport.

Fixed-wing aircraft are cheaper to fly than rotary aircraft.

The nearest available NPAS aircraft now attends requests from forces rather than under the old model where individual forces would own and operate their own helicopter.

Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of the NPAS Strategic Board, said: It has not been an easy decision to move to a 15-base model but these are the sort of difficult decisions that have to be taken with the economic climate we are all operating in.

The Board have been assured that the performance of NPAS will be maintained in line with the needs of the forces and PCCs we serve as we move to a truly borderless tasking of the national air service, the Board will be robustly monitoring this transition and performance to ensure an effective and efficient service is delivered through this unique national collaboration.

The 15 bases will be:

Newcastle

Wakefield

Barton

Hawarden

East Midlands Airport (Two bases – one for fixed wing aircraft, one for rotary aircraft) – (subject to contract negotiations)

Birmingham

Boreham

Elstree (subject to contract negotiations)

Benson

Filton

St Athan

Redhill

Bournemouth

Exeter

References

  1. ^ Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent (www.edp24.co.uk)

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