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The Last Flight of Police Helicopters 10 helicopters going #SaveOurChopperCoppers 

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Last week the NPAS announced that over the next 2 years, 10 police helicopter bases would be closing the hanger door for a final time. The implications are grave on many levels, and are of a direct result of reductionsto finances of around 37% since 2012. 

When a proposition is put to the police, that something that they consider critical is about to be reduced but ‘will be more efficient’ those who actually need and use the service are understandably sceptical

 

Back in 2012 this was exactly the case with police helicopters, a business plan, reached the conclusion that pooling helicopters under one organisation and placing them at number of strategic bases was much ‘smarter’ and of course cheaper than forces operating their own aircraft. Don’t forget this ‘new’ efficient business plan preceded a case made by all policing area’s a few years earlier supporting all 30 police air support bases to remain!

 

The job of running the new service was handed to West Yorkshire Police and most Chief Constables across the country duly signed up to the new National Police Air Service – NPAS and handed over their helicopters. 


Many Chiefs had reservations of course that they wouldn’t see the police helicopters nearly as much – especially the forces further from the bright lights and big cities. NPAS reassured the Chiefs that the new 23 bases would make sure everyone was covered as well as they were now during NPAS peak times – meaning for 10hrs a dayThe other 14hrs mostly during the night (when serious crime occurs) it’ll be a reduced service with a handful of helicopters covering the whole country.

 

Police Chiefs signed on the line and handed over pilots, crews, and helicopters and submitted yearly amounts of money. This amounted to several hundred thousand pounds, to nearly £2million per year to NPAS in return for an airtime deal where you pay for so many hours of flying in your force for catching criminals and searching for vulnerable missing persons etc. 

 

Now we’ve just had NPAS’s first full financial year and they’ve been hit with finding efficiency savings to the tune of 37%. That’s 23% in 2012 and now a further 14%.The reality of this is that they now simply can’t deliver what the individual police forces signed up to. They’ve agonised over many penny pinching schemes, but the reality of the level of cuts is the dropping of the bombshell that they’ll have to close bases and lose helicopters, the very opposite of the undertaking that NPAS promised to deliver back in the days of delivering a more ‘efficient and effective service’ .

 

In the light of the latest cuts NPAS produced a map of the UK showing a multitude of blue circles representing their target 20 minute flight times from their home bases to priority calls that they’ve agreed with police forces. The ‘practitioners’ have produced their own, based on experience and reality. 

The map has some shocking features, namely a total lack of helicopter coverage for ‘priority’ calls across huge swathes of the country. Cumbria and most of Lancashire has virtually no police helicopter cover with the planned base closure at Warton for example.

Wales and East Anglia, and the North East of England are dealt similar blows with no police helicopter cover to meet the priority target at all. 


The reduced number of bases under the new NPAS model is focused on the denser populated cities and anywhere outside of those areas is wildernesses as far as policing from the skies are concerned. Helicopters have a limited amount of fuel and flying over any distance seriously depletes their ability to stay overhead and actually do the task they were called up for, in reality cancelling out their effectiveness and value for money. 

 

The blame for this mess lies fairly and squarely at the door of the Home Office, they have openly reneged on a proposition for borderless police helicopter service by slashing its funding and actually forcing closures. Indeed If they’d been transparent and honest about this at the start, many forces may have considered not signing up to NPAS in the first place. 

 

The Minister for policing, Mike Penning as you would expect has responded with the usual wretched rhetoric about slickness and efficiency but it simply wont wash with the public who live in the huge swathes of the country like the North East and North West now pretty much abandoned by NPAS. 

 

At least Penning has had the decency to refrain from the government’s pathetic mantra of ‘maintaining frontline policing’ because it’s now become laughably implausible. 

 

The brave men and women who operate our NPAS cover so many front-line duties  pursuit safety, suspect containment, assisting 999 services, moving resources, finding missing persons, intelligence gathering and public order duty & demonstrations to name a few vital roles. The value of our police helicopters is immeasurable.   

 

What the public should be asking now from their PCC’s and MP’s is who exactly is holding this government to account for their safety? 

 

Cutting police helicopters is a charter for criminals and real worry for police on the ground that search for vulnerable missing persons on a daily basis. Criminals will act with impunity outside of the helicopter coverage and escape into the night and the lives of the missing and vulnerable will be lost where every minute counts. Meanwhile back in their cosy offices in the Home Office, they will pat themselves on the back for another job well done.

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Girl aged 8 who was stabbed to death named as Mylee Billingham

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A little girl who was tragically stabbed to death has been named as 8-year-old Mylee Billingham.

Police responded to a domestic related incident near Walsall and sadly discovery Mylee seriously injured.

Despite frantic efforts by police, paramedics and doctors nothing could be done to save Mylee.

Cops immediately arrested a man aged 54 in connection with her murder.

Sadly Mylee was found with life threatening injuries at a property in Brownhills, near Walsall, on Saturday night, and died a short time later in hospital.

West Midlands Police said the man was also taken to hospital with a stab wound to the stomach.

The 54-year-old man who was arrested remains in a “critical” condition and will Be question “in due course” in relation to the murder of 8 year old Mylee.

Officers are not looking for anyone else in connection with Mylee’s death.

Our thoughts are with Mylee’s family and friends at this difficult time.

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Girl 8 stabbed to dead in Walsall, West Midlands

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Police have launched a murder investigation after an 8 year old girl was stabbed to death near Walsall.

A 54-year-old man has been arrested following the attack overnight in Brownhills.

Cops responded to a 999 call at 9.15pm to reports of a disturbance at the address on arrival they found a girl with serious injuries.

She was rushed to hospital but sadly nothing could be done to save her this girls injuries were too serious and she died a short time later.”

The 54-year-old man was also taken to hospital and treated for a stab wound to his stomach.

Detective Inspector Jim Colclough, from the homicide unit, said: “We are treating this as a domestic incident and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the child’s death.

“Our family liaison team are supporting the family of the little girl, who are naturally devastated by her death. Our thoughts remain with them.”

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Parents warned after hooded man follows and grabs second child in 24 hours

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Chilling CCTV footage has been released of what is believed to be an attempted abduction of a schoolgirl aged 11 just 24 hours after another school girl reported that she was approached and grabbed by a man as she walked to school in north Manchester.

Police are linking both incidents are warning parents to remain vigilant after a second child was grabbed walking to school.

CCTV footage shows a young girl being approached by a stranger in the street, police have now launched an investigation after the girl was followed and grabbed.

The girl managed to fight off the man and break free before she raised the alarm on Acre Top Road. She escaped unharmed.

The incident happened at 8.30am on Wednesday, January 10th as the girl walked to school. Police are also investigating another incident in which another schoolgirl was grabbed near Sainsbury’s on Middleton Road by the Heaton Park roundabout, was also reported the day before, the school said.

Crab Lane Primary School, in Higher Blackley, released a letter to parents warning that a stranger had attempted to grab a school girl on her way into school ‘The matter was reported to police immediately and the child was able to give a good description,’ the letter from headteacher Pat Adams said.

‘The police have informed us that a similar incident occurred near the Sainsbury’s, by the Heaton Park roundabout, the day before. ‘The police suspect that the two incidents are connected, given the short distance between them and the fact that both girls gave a similar description of the man in question.

‘As of yet, the police have not located this man. Therefore, please take extra precautions to remind your children of ‘stranger danger’ and the importance of being vigilant when on the streets without an adult.’

Police have said the suspect is described as a white man of slim build aged in his 30s he has blond hair and a blue jacket.

Thankfully both children managed to break free, Police are now warning parents to be on their guard and request that children walk in groups of two on their way to and from school.

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