Helicopter is grounded

South Yorkshire Police is losing its own dedicated helicopter as the force tries to cut costs.

From 2013 the county will be served by helicopters based in three neighbouring counties – all operated by a new National Police Air Service (NPAS) rather than individual forces.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said the force would keep an operating helicopter base under the proposed new service.

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She added: “Although SYP will not have its own helicopter under the plans, the county will benefit from a 24 hour service that will provide a response within 20 minutes.”

The new national service will roll out from April 2012, with South Yorkshire due to become part of the service in January 2013, retaining its own helicopter until then.

She continued: “NPAS will cover South Yorkshire from three bases in West Yorkshire, Humberside and Derbyshire. With SYP retaining a forward operating base, the intention is that a helicopter deployed to support would land, refuel and await further deployment from Sheffield.”

“The principle behind the new service is borderless tasking - the helicopters will not belong to any individual force and the 20 bases will serve all forces according to priority.”

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The move will save the force around £668,000 a year and the cost of the Sheffield operating base will be absorbed by NPAS.

The force is meeting with NPAS this month to ensure local staff affected have the opportunity to transfer to the new service.