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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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TV Presenter Dale Winton Dies Aged 62

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Dale Winton who was best known for his game show Supermarket Sweep and In It To Win it has tragically died aged 62z

His agent has this evening confirmed the very sad news that Winton has lost his life.

No further details around Winton’s death have been released and it is requested that his family are offered privacy at this very tragic time.

His long-term agent Jan Kennedy said:

It is with great sadness that we can confirm the passing of Dale Winton who died at home earlier today.

While we know many will share this terrible loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this time of grief.

A number of tributes have been left on Twitter

Winton started his career as a DJ in London and he was soon hosting his own show on local radio.

This lead Winton to joining the BBC Bristol to present Pet Watch for BBC One.

Over the years he also worked for Channel 4 ITV and on BBC One’s national lottery show.

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Girl aged 5 sadly dies after being recovered from the water at Durdle Door in Dorest

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Officers investigating an incident where a girl tragically died after being recovered from the water at Durdle Door are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

At around 11.30am today, Wednesday 18 April 2018, HM Coastguard received reports of a child and a woman in distress in the water at Durdle Door in Dorset.

The woman was rescued from the water by a member of the public. A Ministry of Defence military range safety vessel, which was in the area and responded to a Mayday broadcast, recovered the girl from the water.

The five-year-old girl, from Salisbury, was taken by the RNLI Weymouth Lifeboat to Weymouth and transferred by the ambulance service to Dorset County Hospital, where she was sadly pronounced dead.

Detective Inspector Steve May, of Dorset Police, said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the young girl involved at this very difficult time.

“At this time there is nothing to suggest this was anything other than a tragic accident however, with the sudden death of any child we have an obligation to carry out an investigation to establish the full circumstances of what happened.

“I am appealing to anyone who witnessed how the girl came to be in the water and has not already spoken to police to contact us immediately.

“There were also a number of visitors in the area at the time and I am appealing to anyone who may have filmed or photographed the incident to please get in touch as it may assist our investigation.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email [email protected] or by calling 101, quoting incident number 18:127. 

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Police name Steven John Willis following targeted murder

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Cleveland Police have this morning named Steven John Willis aged 27 following what is believed to have been a targeted murder.

Steven’s body was found in the road outside of his home in Meadowcroft Road, Normanby.

Locally Steven was also known as Steven Pickering or Picko. There have been floods of tributes on social media.

It is believed Steven was subjected to a violent and targeted attack.

Cleveland Police are currently holding five men in police custody on suspicion of murder.

Police received a 999 reporting a disturbance near Skippers Lane Normanby.

Crime scene investigators are combing the area following the death. Officers responded to the incident just after 10.30pm on April 16th.

It is believed all five men are being held at separate police stations

Local residents have told Police Hour that police have not yet conducted house to house enquires but police remain at the house on the corner of Meadowcroft Road.

The crime scene within the area bas been reduced and now centres around the front garden of Meadowcroft Road and the house in which Steven lived within.

The area in which the incident happened is a very quiet area.

Cleveland Police progressed the investigation very quickly initially announcing three arrests had been made all men aged 20, 22 and 31 all being held on suspicion or murder.

Later it was announced a fourth arrest had been made of a man aged 21.

A fifth arrest of another 21-year-old man was then made late on Tuesday evening.

All five men currently remain in police custody for questioning.

Cleveland Police have not released details surrounding the incident that unfolded however two people aged 17 and 44 are being treated at James Cook Hospital they are in a non-life threatening stable condition.

Anyone with any information is urged to call Cleveland Police on 101.

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