A new National Police Air Service (NPAS) is set to provide a more efficient and accessible air support service throughout England and Wales that offers better value for money.
Responding to the findings of a comprehensive review commissioned in 2009, ACPO members have approved the central recommendation to replace the current air support system with a service organised nationally, but delivered locally.
The government has expressed a commitment to establishing NPAS by April 2012. An ACPO led project team has been supported by the NPIA to develop an implementation plan for this national service.
In difficult financial times, NPAS illustrates how the police service is pro-actively moving towards a national, co-ordinated way of working. The new service will work collaboratively to provide capability from the air that maximises the delivery of frontline public services, but with a lower cost than services procured and managed on a local basis. The proposed model predicts a saving of an estimated Â£15.27M (22.8%) over current provision.
Head of the NPAS, Chief Constable Alex Marshall said, â€œThis 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.
Deputy Chief Constable, Nick Gargan, Acting Chief Executive of the NPIA said, â€œThis will be a truly national policing service that will be at the heart of improving public safety. The NPIA has played a substantial role in helping to set up the service which will bring operational efficiencies and allow for the introduction of innovative contracts that offer better value for money for the service and the tax payer.â€
In 2009 a comprehensive review commissioned by CC Bernard Hogan-Howe identified serious inefficiencies with current arrangements â€“ both in terms of cost and capability. ACPO and the Policing Portfolio Group therefore approved its central recommendation to replace the current system with â€˜a national service, organised regionally and delivered locallyâ€™.
The review estimated potential savings of Â£12- Â£18m per annum (capital and running costs) and the White Paper confirmed the Governmentâ€™s commitment to this happening by April 2012.
Previously air support in England and Wales was primarily delivered locally and independently â€“ there were 30 Police Air Support Units (ASU), operating 33 aircraft.
The following is a breakdown of proposed base sites. Please note that these are likely to change, they are as highlighted in the original proposal only. They are also subject to sign off from the relevant police authority. This is the planning principle. It may change subject to addressing the concerns of some forces.
* Western Counties (currently serving Avon and Somerset and Gloucester) and Wiltshire (Consortium with Great Western Air Ambulance) will reduce to one aircraft, combine and relocate to a new base at RAF Colerne;
* Sussex and Surrey will reduce to one aircraft, combine and relocate to a new base at Dunsfold;
* Norfolk and Suffolk will reduce to one aircraft, combine and relocate to a new base at RAF Honington;
* Merseyside aircraft will be withdrawn from service with provision continuing from other bases in the area;
* South Yorkshire aircraft will be withdrawn from service with provision continuing from other bases in the area;
* Cambridge aircraft will be withdrawn from service with provision continuing from other bases in the area;
* Dyfed-Powys aircraft will be withdrawn from service with provision continuing from other bases in the area;
* The RAF Henlow based aircraft from Chiltern Air Support Unit (Thames Valley, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) will be withdrawn from service with provision continuing from other bases in the area;
* Essex aircraft will relocate to Southend Airport;
* Dorset aircraft will relocate to Bournemouth Airport;
* West Midlands aircraft will relocate to work from Wolverhampton Airport creating a two aircraft unit with Central Counties (West Mercia and Staffordshire). Both aircraft currently work under the Central Motorway Police Group banner;
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