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Statement from Cleveland PCC - National Police Air Service Update


"The policing environment has changed. Since 2010 the service has suffered substantial funding reductions from the Government under austerity measures. There have been 25% cut from overall budgets, which equates to £2.5billion, reductions in officer numbers and staffing, and increasing demand on the service as a whole.

We must be realistic about the impact of these reductions and try in earnest to retain policing locally on the ground. We cannot face these cuts with our eyes closed and difficult and uncomfortable decisions must be made. We cannot shy away from that.

The reality is that if the National Police Air Service (NPAS) did not exist, we would not be able to manage the costs of our own helicopter in these austere times. The current funding arrangements mean that in Cleveland we spend over £1.4million per year on air support, which is 2.8% of the national air support costs and we get around 1% of the policing budget.

Durham Tees Valley has not provided 24/7 cover since April 2013 during some of the early hours and air support is provided from other bases. We have been able to request and access air support during these times.

NPAS in a streamlined format is the best way to balance our needs, with the funds we have. I am determined to renegotiate with NPAS so that we reduce the £1.4million costs and put the money into local policing.

The decisions made on a national level are not about the worth of air support, but are based on not being able to continue, or do more, with less. NPAS are forced to find savings of £18million and we are working locally to manage £37million cuts to our own budgets.

We will still have access to air support, but it is just one tool in the policing armoury and the ability to call upon air support is determined by a number of things outside of our control – including weather conditions. 

I am working with colleagues to protect our local armoury as best as possible – but I will always be realistic about the challenges that we face and will strive to retain and develop policing locally on the ground as expressed to me by local communities across Cleveland."


Letter - National Police Air Service Update

Sent on 25 February 2015 from PCC Barry Coppinger to Cleveland Councils Leaders & Chief Executives, Chair & Members of Cleveland Police & Crime Panel, Chair & Members of Cleveland Joint Audit Panel and Cleveland MPs.

Copies sent to North East & Yorkshire PCCs & Chief Constables, Chair of NPAS Board and NPAS Chief Operating Officer.

Cleveland PCC Letter - National Police Service Update 25.2.15 (Adobe PDF, 208KB)



Press Release from National Police Air Service (20 February 2015)


"The National Police Air Service has confirmed plans to move to a 15-base model"

The National Police Air Service has confirmed plans to move to a 15-base model.  The announcement means 19 rotary aircraft (helicopters) and four fixed-wing aircraft will be in operation once all the plans are in place.  There are currently 23 aircraft in the NPAS fleet.

The underlying principle of NPAS is a national service, coordinated by a lead force in West Yorkshire for local delivery. 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 in isolation.  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

The Accountable Manager for the National Police Air Service, Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, said:

"NPAS needs to find further substantial financial savings with a target of 14% of revenue cuts over the next three years. This is on top of the 23% 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 15 bases are as follows, click here for more information on the coverage to be provided:

  • Newcastle
  • Wakefield
  • Barton
  • Hawarden
  • East Midlands Airport (2 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

The following bases will be closed in the financial year 2015/2016

  • Rhuddlan - closes 15 September 2015
  • Halfpenny Green - closes 1 January 2016
  • Pembrey - closes 1 January 2016
  • Ripley - closes 31 January 2016
  • Sheffield - closes 1 February 2016

The following bases will close in the financial year 2016/2017

  • Durham Tees Valley
  • Warton
  • Wattisham
  • Husbands Bosworth
  • Lippitts Hill (subject to contract negotiations)

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."


Posted on Wednesday 25th February 2015
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