Police forces loses helicopter

SOUTH Yorkshire looks set to lose its own dedicated police helicopter after the Government ordered police forces to share choppers.

South Yorkshire Police chiefs are against plans for a National Police Air Service (NPAS) which will see the county losing its own dedicated helicopter and having to share resources with.

The force was the only one to formally object to the proposals.

Under the plans, incidents in South Yorkshire requiring a police helicopter will be dealt with by choppers based in West Yorkshire, Humberside and Derbyshire.

The move has prompted fears that response time will increase.

Policing Minister Nick Herbert has said he would use his statutory powers to enforce the change.

The introduction of the NPAS will lead to the number of police air units across England and Wales being cut from 32 to 22, operating from 20 bases around the country.

Under the plan, South Yorkshire will still have a 24-hour service with a response time of 20 minutes.

The national service will launch in April 2012, with South Yorkshire becoming part of it 10 months later in January 2013.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police Authority, which oversees how the force is run and performs, said: “The authority remains committed to ensuring there is an effective and resilient air support for the county.”

“We don’t disagree with the National Police Air Service proposals in principle, but we require reassurances from Government that the national scheme will not reduce services.”

“The authority will speak with NPAS to seek further clarification on this issue.”

South Yorkshire Police had said the removal of the helicopter service would save it £668,000 per year.