The new head of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) has praised the staff in the wake of major operational activity.
Chief Superintendent Scott Bisset, Chief Operating Officer, spoke during a week in which NPAS flew to 433 tasks for forces, including supporting the state visit of President Trump and four days of operational support for a mass gathering of bikers from across Europe.
The final day of President Trump’s visit included the 75thanniversary commemorations in Portsmouth of the D-Day landings, where he joined other world leaders and the Queen.
Chief Supt Bisset said: “The challenge for our staff was to provide cover for the three-day presidential visit and the Hells Angels 50thanniversary, while also maintaining ‘business as usual’ air support for forces across England and Wales. With up to four aircraft needed on the south coast for the D-Day event alone, we were presented with a significant logistical test. I’m pleased to say our staff rose to the challenge. They provided excellent support for both the major, pre-planned tasks and for incoming jobs from forces. It was a demonstration of the flexibility and resilience of national service.”
Other tasks for NPAS from 30 May to 5 June included 12 successful searches for vulnerable missing people; 13 suspect searches resulting in 21 arrests, and 15 vehicles located. In addition, 166 search areas were cleared for forces.
Shaun Turner, NPAS Service Delivery and Operations Centre Manager, said: “Ahead of the week, a lot of planning went into moving aircraft around the NPAS network of bases. This was to meet the specific needs of the state visit whilst also optimising cover across the whole of England and Wales. At the same time, we had to juggle the necessary on-going requirements of both planned and unplanned aircraft maintenance. In addition to the pre-planned operations, NPAS Operations Centre applied the usual ‘threat, harm and risk’ test to spontaneous requests from
forces, making sure the most urgent calls were prioritised for an immediate response.”
Tasks during the week included a crew spotting a missing man with dementia beside a canal in the South West. Due to the remote location, they landed and gave him first aid before paramedics arrived. There was also containment of a firearms incident in Wales, operational support of a demonstration on Teesside and assisting a pursuit in the South East where a crew led officers towards a fleeing burglary suspect and a discarded bag, which was found to contain weapons. In East Anglia, another crew found a suicidal missing man seriously injured in a ditch and landed to help rescue him.
Alongside providing air support for the state visit, the other pre-planned operation saw NPAS assisting Surrey Police with the Hells Angels events, which included a mass ride-out. In the build-up, hundreds of bikers were expected to travel to the area. An NPAS helicopter was deployed for multiple flights and a Tactical Flight Officer provided assistance in the force control room during the weekend. The main three forces involved in the state visit were the Metropolitan Police, Hampshire Police and Essex Police.
Chief Supt Bisset joined NPAS in April, having previously been a district commander for West Yorkshire Police.
About the National Police Air Service?
We provide borderless air support to all police forces of England and Wales 24/7, 365 days a year, from our national network of 14 bases. The National Police Air Service exists to keep communities safe and tasks which pose the highest risk to communities are prioritised in line with local police and crime plans. All requests for support are managed through one central point in our national operations centre in West Yorkshire.
NPAS was formed in October 2012 following the national review of air support conducted by the Home Office in 2009. We are the first and only collaboration of all police forces in England and Wales, regulated by law. NPAS is delivered by West Yorkshire Police on behalf of British Policing and governed by a National Board made up of six elected Police and Crime Commissioners and six Chief Constables each representing their policing regions. It is funded through the collaborative agreement of participating police forces to each pay a proportionate contribution toward this overall cost of delivery which corresponds to their service use.