NPAS

National Police Air Service (NPAS)

NPAS FAQs

 

1. Why do police forces need air support?
Police air support plays a key role in tackling crime and protecting the public:

  • Searching – for suspects or missing persons
  • Reconnaissance ahead of planned operations.
  • Supporting public order operations, including through live feed of video to commanders on the ground. Assisting pursuits.

2. In these times of austerity aren’t police aircraft just an expensive luxury – wouldn’t the money be better spent putting more officers on the front line?
Aircraft provide vital support for police ground operations and is one of a number of key assets available to the police. In hunts for suspects or missing persons they can clear large areas that would otherwise tie up many officers for many hours in prolonged searches, as well as checking inaccessible or dangerous areas (eg roofs), including through use of infra red detection.

In public order situations they provide – literally – an overview enabling commanders to make the most effective deployments and respond quickly to emerging problems.

3. What is the National Police Air Service (NPAS)?
A nationally managed, regionally organised service to deliver vital air support to forces locally. It operates under a National Collaboration Agreement covering all the police areas in England and Wales.

The focus of NPAS is to deliver a more cost effective service, balancing the need to save money in a challenging economic environment against the need to ensure the police service has a quickly deployable asset that can be used to tackle crime and protect the public.

NPAS  ensures that essential air support continues to be delivered where it is required; ensuring that confidence in the service remains high. It also makes use of a number of aircraft within each region meaning that the police service’s response will, in many cases, be enhanced over current provision. NPAS is a truly national (England and Wales) policing service that is at the heart of improving public safety. It brings improvements in operational efficiencies and allows for the introduction of innovative contracts that offer better value for money for the service and the tax payer.

4. Why was NPAS implemented?
In 2009 a comprehensive review commissioned by Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe identified serious inefficiencies with these arrangements – both in terms of cost and capability.  ACPO and the Policing Portfolio Group approved its central recommendation to replace the current system with a ‘national service, regionally co-ordinated for local delivery’.

Based on the recommendations, a joint ACPO/National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) NPAS project team, headed by Hampshire Chief Constable Alex Marshall QPM as the ACPO lead on air operations was established.  A proposal for NPAS was agreed by all 43 Chief Officers at Chief Constables’ Council in 2010.  The proposal for NPAS was considered by all Police Authorities in June 2011.

In support of NPAS, The Secretary of State has made the Police (Collaboration: Specified Function) Order 2012, order under Section 23FA of the Police Act 1996 to specify air support as a function to be carried out through a single national collaboration agreement for England and Wales.

5. When was NPAS implemented?
NPAS was implemented in a phased approach from October 2012- January 2015.

6. What are the benefits of a national service?

  • NPAS provides a national, borderless service making use of the nearest aircraft meaning that the police service's response will, in many cases, be enhanced over current provision.
  • NPAS provides an air service to 98% of the population of England and Wales within 20 minutes.
  • NPAS aircraft are placed at 15 strategic locations that provide the operational capability to deliver an enhanced service to the public with an aircraft being available 24 hours a day. Reserve aircraft will also be provided when aircraft are offline for maintenance to minimise reduction in service.
  • NPAS delivers a more cost effective service balancing the need to save money against the need to ensure the police service has a quickly deployable asset that can be used to tackle crime and protect the public. It is anticipated that NPAS saves up to £15 million a year compared to the cost of previous arrangements for police air support when all forces join NPAS.
  • Longer term, further savings are expected to be achievable through improved operational and organisational efficiencies as well as moving to an optimised fleet (reducing maintenance and training costs).

7. How is NPAS funded?
NPAS is funded through contributions from forces.  The initial funding model for NPAS means that every force will pay less for air support than they currently do during the current Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) period.  The funding model also makes provision for a small team of staff that meets the Civil Aviation Authority regulations and will ensure the service is able to respond to demand.

In January 2012, the Policing Minister announced that part of the police capital grant for the years to 2014/15 would be top sliced from police authorities and allocated to meet the capital costs of NPAS (these include the purchase of aircraft and base redevelopment or relocation).

8. What are the efficiency savings associated NPAS?
NPAS saves approximately up to £15 million a year compared to the cost of previous arrangements for police air support once all forces have joined NPAS. Longer term, further savings are expected to be achievable through improved operational and organisational efficiencies as well as moving to an optimised fleet (reducing maintenance and training costs).

Significant savings have already been made as a number of forces have moved to operating in line with NPAS principles, for example the North West and Central regions operate borderless tasking and the former Merseyside and Cambridgeshire aircraft have already been withdrawn (the former Cambridgeshire aircraft is now being used as an NPAS reserve aircraft).

Once all forces join NPAS this will provide the opportunity to realise the rest of the savings available.

9. Where are the bases located?
There are 15 air support bases at strategic locations that provide the operational capability to deliver an effective service.  The NPAS base locations are:

Barton, Greater Manchester
Benson, Oxfordshire
Birmingham, West Midlands
Boreham, Essex
Bournemouth, Dorset
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Exeter, Devon
Filton, Wiltshire
Hawarden, Flintshire
Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire
Lippitts Hill, Essex
Newcastle, Northumbria
Redhill, Surrey
St Athan, Glamorgan, South Wales

10. Will there be any further changes to these bases or to the number of NPAS aircraft?
Under the NPAS Collaboration Agreement for police air support, it will be for the NPAS Strategic Board to consider any proposals for further change.

11. Who hosts the operation and service of NPAS?
NPAS is delivered through a lead force model.  West Yorkshire Police Authority agreed that West Yorkshire Police will host the National Police Air Service (NPAS).  This ensures that NPAS is led and owned by the police service and delivers the operational benefits and financial savings that have been presented to individual police authorities.

12. How Does this fit in with Police and Crime Commisioner’s (PCCs)
PCCs are parties of the NPAS Collaboration Agreement and play a key role in the overall governance of the NPAS Strategic Board as stated within the NPAS Collaboration Agreement.