Closing Lancashire helicopter base ‘is ‘catastrophic for policing’

Urgent Review: One of the NPAS helicopters

Urgent Review: One of the NPAS helicopters

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Closing a Lancashire helicopter base would have a “catastrophic” effect on policing in the county, according to Town Hall bosses.

Fears have been raised that closing the National Police Air Service unit at Warton, near Preston, could lead to more crime in Lancashire, and councillors are calling for an “urgent review” of the plans.

Coun Brian Rollo has submitted a notice of motion to council, claiming closing the base would “result in a sparse air policing service for the first time in over two decades”.

The notice said the effect on policing would be “catastrophic”, adding: “Criminals from the areas of Greater Manchester Police and Merseyside Police forces will see Lancashire as a safer area to operate.”

Councillors will discuss the notice of motion, which urges the council’s chief executive to write to the Home Secretary, Preston MPs and Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grushaw expressing the fears, and requesting the Home Secretary to start an “urgent review” of the closure plans.

Conservative group leader Coun Eric Fazackerley said he had “reservations” about the police function being diminished, and said he hoped it could be reinstated, while Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Pauline Brown said the helicopter was an “invaluable part of policing”, adding: “To lose it would be horrendous”.

Chief Supt Ian Whitehouse said: “The NPAS strategic board met again on the March 24 following the decisions they took at their meeting on February 19 to move to the 15 base model. The board considered various representations made following the announcements and agreed that there would be a review conducted within 12 months to ensure the agreed operating model was appropriate.”