Northern Ireland

Police spend £7m on helicopter

The Police Service of Northern Ireland have spent £7m on a helicopter.

Police said the new twin-engine aircraft would be used to "strengthen the fight against crime in Northern Ireland and to make communities safer".

The Eurocopter EC 145 can carry 10 people and has space for two stretcher casualties in rescue situations.

In 2009, it emerged that police in Fermanagh had chartered a private helicopter at a cost of more than £52,000.

It was used to back up security operations.

The new helicopter will be used alongside the existing helicopter which is five-years-old.

Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, head of Crime Operations Department, said it was an important long-term investment in "everyone's safety".

"It will assist in meeting the ever increasing demands on policing in every part of Northern Ireland," he said.

"This will include supporting police activities such as investigations, anti-crime operations, traffic management, search and rescue, public order situations, crime reduction initiatives and tackling terrorism."

So far this year, the PSNI helicopter has been deployed on 1,058 occasions, including 56 times for public disorder and 25 times for VIP protection.

Police said the majority of deployments were in support of everyday police work and it had helped to track down 36 suspects, find 19 missing persons, evacuate 11 casualties and locate 13 vehicles.

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