Great Britain

West Yorkshire to step back as lead force in charge of police helicopters

MAYOR of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin has given 12 months formal notice to cease the role that West Yorkshire plays as the lead local policing body for the National Police Air Service.

It follows a personal meeting last week with the Minister of State for Policing and Crime, Kit Malthouse MP, where the service’s future was discussed.

NPAS runs 19 police helicopters from 15 bases across the country, and is operated from West Yorkshire Police's base in Wakefield.

Ms Brabin said: “With my election I have assumed the Police and Crime Commissioner responsibilities as Lead Local Policing Body for the National Police Air Service.

“At times, leadership of NPAS has been a herculean effort by all involved and I pay tribute to all the staff who do a great job day-in-day out in providing this specialist key service for policing and our communities.

“Since the outset, when NPAS was first established under a West Yorkshire lead force model on behalf of policing in England and Wales, it has always been anticipated that there would be a change in the way that the service is delivered, and over the last few years there has been much work and time spent on reviewing the governance and leadership of police aviation.

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“Progress has been slow due to a number of reasons, and I believe now is the right time to take stock of the situation and look towards a different way of operating the service.

“Although NPAS is a unique national collaboration with a strong brand and has evolved over many years during difficult times in delivering a truly 24/7 borderless service, the conflicting pressures of diminishing resources, new technology and the ever-changing requirements of policing in England & Wales nearly 10 years on have become too great to dismiss.

“It is against this backdrop that I have now provided the required 12 months’ notice, to cease the current role that West Yorkshire plays as the lead local policing body.

“I know there is already an emerging consensus among Police and Crime Commissioners for a new delivery model to be established and this is a view that I also share.

“If this is to be achieved, however, the Home Office must also play a key role in helping to jointly secure a sustainable solution for the future of police air support in tandem with any proposed governance changes.

“While we arrive at a position where we can hand over to a new delivery model and structure, West Yorkshire Police will continue to deliver NPAS to the same high standards in supporting policing and helping to keep our communities safe throughout England & Wales.”

After the announcement, retired Chief Superintendent Owen West Tweeted: "NPAS has been a millstone around the force’s neck for years.

"Easy and accessible drone technology is making a standing national fleet less viable year on year. Being national lead adds very little value to WY taxpayers."

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