Air support for Lancashire Police is ‘insufficient’

The police helicopter base at Warton was closed earlier this year.
The police helicopter base at Warton was closed earlier this year.
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The decision to close the Lancashire’s police helicopter base was made based on flawed information, a new report has said.

The police watchdog has criticised the National Police Air Service (NPAS) after it found the level of service forces get varies dramatically.Only 11 of the country’s 43 forces pay a larger proportion of their budget to NPAS than Lancashire Police, the report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found. The fee works out to 83p per resident in the county. But just 33 per cent of requests for help from NPAS are approved – one of the lowest rates in the country.

Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said the report ‘raises serious questions’ about the level of service the county gets from NPAS.

“There are clear inconsistencies in service and cost which means that Lancashire is not getting value for money from this national service,” he added.

“I will be working with other areas to ensure a fairer national picture for our police forces but here in Lancashire we continue to explore the use of drones alongside partners in the Fire and Rescue Service.”

The report also confirmed campaigners’ claims that models used justify the decision to close the Warton air base earlier this year were inadequate. It said: “The modelling gave an unrealistic picture of likely real-world response times.”

Prior to the closure, NPAS response times in Lancashire were 28 minutes.

Chief Con Dee Collins, of West Yorkshire Police, who oversees NPAS, said creating the service was ‘challenging’.

“We have sought to change the expectations of police forces about the role of air support in policing and to do so has been a difficult process,” she added.