Police air service to cut 10 helicopter bases

A Gwent Police helicopter
Image caption The National Police Air Service will operate from 15 bases in the future

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) has said it is to close 10 of its helicopter bases over the next two years.

Ch Supt Ian Whitehouse, from the NPAS said the closures were part of a plan to meet a 14% reduction in its budget over the next three years.

The service will operate from 15 bases following the cuts.

Four helicopters will be cut from the existing number of 23 and four fixed-wing aircraft introduced.

The bases facing closure in 2016 are; Rhuddlan, Halfpenny Green, Pembrey, Ripley and Sheffield.

Durham Tees Valley, Warton, Wattisham, Husbands Bosworth and Lippitts Hill will close by 2017.

New bases are planned to open at Elstree and East Midlands Airport, where the four new fixed-wing aircraft will be based.

'Efficiency and effectiveness'

The NPAS was launched in October 2012 to co-ordinate the deployment of police helicopters, which were then operated by individual forces from 30 bases.

It serves forces across England and Wales, including British Transport Police.

The Metropolitan Police, Dyfed-Powys Police and Humberside Police are all due to join the NPAS by the end of next year.

Ch Supt Whitehouse said it was a difficult decision to close the bases.

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

"It is a move based on an analysis of potential threat, risk and harm to the public we serve."

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