SOUTH Yorkshire Police Authority has stepped up its fight to save its crimebusting helicopter, which is threatened by a money-saving shake-up.
The authority says it could take three times as long to respond to emergencies of the helicopter is axed.
The Home Office wants South Yorkshire’s chopped to be replaced by a National Police Air Support Service under which the nearest police helicopter to Rotherham would be based in Derbyshire, Humberside and West Yorkshire.
Nationwide the NPAS would see ten helicopters removed from duty with regional police forces.The Association of Chief Police Officers suggests merging the remaining aircraft into a single service would save £15 million a year, almost a quarter of the current £66 million annual cost of police air support.
But the South Yorkshire Police Authority’s figures show that the police air response to incidents in Rotherham could increase more than three-fold if the NPAS was implemented.
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Meanwhile, the distance travelled by the attending helicopter would be ten times greater.
Charles Perryman, chair of South Yorkshire Police Authority, said: “We require reassurances from Government that the national scheme will not reduce services to the county.
“Despite repeated requests for additional information from the National Police Air Support team, nothing has been received.”
Mr Perryman added: “Members of the authority have now agreed to take this back to their local councils and involve cabinet ministers in order to achieve a resolution to the issue.
“The helicopter strengthens the force’s ability to reduce crime, protect vulnerable people and reduce vehicle accidents and the value of this cannot be underestimated.”
Click below to listen to the Mayor of Rotherham, Cllr Shaun Wright, who is also vice-chairman of the police authority, talking about why South Yorkshire needs its own police helicopter.
Check out the authority’s detailed figures here.