Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger has made the following statement about the National Police Air Service:
"As well as being the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, I also represent the North-East and Yorkshire Region on the National Police Air Service (NPAS).
"NPAS is funded through contributions from police forces and, as many people may be aware, the police have suffered repeated cuts to the funding they have received from Government in recent years.
"In Cleveland our funding from national Government has fallen in real terms by £39m in recent years, that is 36% of our budget. In addition, we have found the budget we do have has been repeatedly “top-sliced” by Government to fund national policing initiatives such as IIPCC; HMIC; College of Policing; the Police IT company the Home Office set up, counter terrorism and closer collaboration in specialist areas such as firearms, cybercrime and child sexual exploitation. These are all very important initiatives and I do not downplay their significance, however it does illustrate how the budget we receive is constantly being reduced and cannot be used solely for local policing.
"As mentioned, I represent the North-East and Yorkshire region on NPAS and the board has had to significantly reduce the number of operational bases in order to meet the budget we have available. The part-time base at Durham Tees Valley was one of ten across the country that has had to close.
"From April 2017 air support to this region will be met through 24/7 operational bases at Leeds and at Newcastle. This will be boosted in April 2018 by a new fleet of four fixed wing aircraft operating out of Doncaster.
"It should be borne in mind that the Durham Tees Valley base was not a 24-hour service and there were many hours in every day when cover was already provided by support based elsewhere in the region. It is, nonetheless, regrettable that cuts to police funding have resulted in the closure of this base.
"The new structure provides air support to Cleveland Police and a saving of over £1m a year. This has allowed us to continue to support neighbourhood policing which I know, from the hundreds of public meetings I have attended, is a priority of local communities.
"I have been assured by the Chief Constable that the area will continue to access air support when needed and I will continue to monitor and scrutinise the performance of NPAS moving forward, ensuring Cleveland residents get the best possible service and value for money."
Posted on Monday 10th April 2017