Campaign to save police helicopter

A CAMPAIGN to stop plans to axe the Herts and Beds police helicopter has been started on social networking site Facebook.

Herts and Beds police have signed up in principal to the National Police Air Service (NPAS) project – a scheme which earmarks the closure of RAF Henlow as a police helicopter base in July 2013.

Concerned Hertfordshire resident Annabel Cowdrey has started a Facebook campaign group – Save the Herts and Beds Police Helicopter – which has so far amassed more than 70 members.

“If you don’t want to lose our police helicopter under the proposed plans, write to or email your local police authority,” she advised.

“Under the plans, the base in Bedfordshire will close, which means that Herts and Beds will have no police helicopter and will have to rely on coverage by the Met, who are already overstretched in London, or the western base helicopter travelling from Oxfordshire.

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“They won’t be able to get to us in time for jobs requiring immediate assistance.

“So, if your car gets stolen or a relative goes missing, we will still be paying for police air support, but not actually getting any coverage from a helicopter.”

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The NPAS project, which aims to replace the current air support system with a service organised nationally, is being managed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

ACPO claims the scheme will provide a more efficient and accessible air support service throughout England and Wales that offers better value for money.

The proposed model predicts a saving of about �15.27 million - 22.8 per cent.

Head of the NPAS, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, said: “This is not merely a cost-saving exercise. While the current service is capable of doing its day job, artificial boundaries have meant that helicopters are restricted to operating within their own force area. A national, borderless service will ensure effective coverage of urban and rural areas.”

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