Questions over deal for police helicopter

National Police Air Service Warton, Lancashire.
National Police Air Service Warton, Lancashire.

The decision to close the Fylde coast’s police helicopter base was made using flawed information, a new report has said.

READ MORE: Campaigners admit defeat in battle to save Lancashire last police helicopter base

Clive Grunshaw

Clive Grunshaw

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.

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 in 2016.

Chief Con Dee Collins, of West Yorkshire Police, whichoversees 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.