National Police Air Service (NPAS)

PCC West Yorkshire


Having a lead model means that NPAS is led and owned by the police service locally and delivers the operational benefits and financial savings that have been presented nationally to individual policing bodies.

NPAS operates under a National Collaboration Agreement covering all the policing bodies in England and Wales. It is supported by the relevant legislation in the form of the Police (Collaboration:Specified Function) Order 2012, under Section 23FA of the Police Act 1996, specifying air support as a critical national function to be carried out through a single national collaboration agreement.

Therefore all policing bodies and forces in England and Wales will be expected to join NPAS to ensure a truly national service. It is being implemented in a regional phased approach from October 2012 through to January 2015.

The fact that NPAS was approved and introduced by the last government – WYPA approved the proposal to host NPAS in August 2012

The Police and Crime Commissioner of West Yorkshire, Mark Burns Williamson, plays a lead role in the governance of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) and chairs the Strategic Board.  Because NPAS is a concept rather than a legal entity, it cannot own property or employ people - this has to be done by the PCC and the CC in West Yorkshire on behalf of the rest of England and Wales.  The OPCC owns the airframes and the contracts under which NPAS operates while the CC is the employer of the staff.

In 2009, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) undertook a review of the 1993 National Air Operations Strategy. The review concluded that the existing arrangements for delivery of air support were highly fragmented and did not provide value for money.

In October 2010, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, in his capacity as the Aviation Portfolio holder for ACPO, presented a paper at the Chief Constables’ Council setting out the proposal for a National Police Air Service (NPAS). The underlying principle of NPAS is that it is a national service, regionally co-ordinated for local delivery.

NPAS has been fully endorsed by all chief constables and has strong ministerial support.

How WYP and WYPCC have taken on the responsibility and risk for NPAS

Mr Burns Williamson underlines how crucial the service is nationwide.

“The National Police Air Service is now embedded within West Yorkshire's policing arrangements and is a critical service,” he said.

“Once fully up and running, with the continued support of the Home Office, NPAS will be able to reach 98 per cent of the population within 20 minutes flying time and has been designed to at least £15million a year in its first phase.
“The concept of the National Police Air Service was developed in 2009 and the vision is for it to become the leading public provider of high quality aviation to policing and, hopefully, other blue light services as well.
“So far significant savings have already been made with NPAS, with renegotiated insurance arrangements saving over £1million in West Yorkshire, and an estimated £15million saving across England and Wales because we want to be able to provide a more efficient and effective policing capability from the air.

“However, it's important to note that work is ongoing to achieve full implementation across England and Wales in establishing the full operational benefits and delivery model for all our communities and their differing needs.
“We want to deliver a national service that maximises the benefits of air support to the delivery of frontline services. I am proud that the work our police force as lead, the national project team and my own office have done so far to deliver a service that operates across force boundaries to ensure communities across England and Wales are safer and feel safer.”

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