The UK National Police Air Service confirms reduction in bases


National Police Air Service

The UK National Police Air Service (NPAS) has confirmed plans to move to a 15-base model, which will mean that 19 rotary aircraft (helicopters) and four fixed-wing aircraft will be in operation once all the plans are in place.

The principle is that the nearest available NPAS aircraft will attend rather than under the old system of a force using its own helicopter, no matter where the aircraft was. NPAS also means that there are reserve aircraft on stand-by in case any aircraft have maintenance problems.  NPAS have already achieved overall savings of 23 per cent, amounting to £11 million.

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Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, the accountable manager for the National Police Air Service, said: “NPAS needs to find further substantial financial savings with a target of 14 per cent of revenue cuts over the next three years. This is on top of the 23 per cent 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 24 hours 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,” added Whitehouse.

Moving to a 15 base operation means that ten bases will be closed in the 2015/2016 financial year. The 15 bases will be divided into four different regions.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the 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.”