National Police Air Service (NPAS)

News Release: North West Region join National Police Air Service

29th January 2013

News Release: North West Region join National Police Air Service

Today, (Tuesday, January 29th), Police forces in the North West (Cheshire, North Wales, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria) join the National Police Air Service (NPAS). This is the second phase of implementation since the launch of NPAS on 1st October 2012 when the forces in the South East joined.  The remaining police forces in England and Wales will join NPAS by January 2015. 

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 have a quickly deployable asset that can be used to tackle crime and protect the public.

Responding to the findings of a comprehensive review commissioned in 2009, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and individual Police Authorities approved the central recommendation to replace the previous air support system with a national service, regionally coordinated for local delivery.

In difficult financial times, NPAS illustrates how the police are pro-actively moving towards a national, co-ordinated way of working. NPAS is delivered under the first National Collaboration Agreement between policing bodies in England and Wales. Through collaborate working this enables a service to provide capability from the air that maximises the delivery of frontline public services, but with a lower cost than services procured and managed on a local basis.

NPAS operates under a lead force model through West Yorkshire Police.  This ensures that NPAS is led and owned by the police and delivers the operational benefits and financial savings that have been presented to individual police bodies.

Once all forces join NPAS there will be 25 aircraft based at 23 strategic locations that provide the operational capability to deliver an effective and efficient air support service. This will be achieved through borderless tasking and making use of the nearest available aircraft. NPAS will deliver a service available 24 hours a day, supported by three reserve aircraft when aircraft are offline for scheduled maintenance to minimise reduction in service.

The North West forces have been operating under a regional model in line with NPAS since July 2011 with aircraft based at Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, Hawarden, Cheshire, Barton Moss, Greater Manchester and Warton, Lancashire.  Through borderless tasking and a reduction of one aircraft, previously based at RAF Woodvale, Merseyside, the North West forces have used 10% fewer flying hours due to intelligent tasking and despatch.  They have also made savings of 14% compared with previous costs.  As part of NPAS these forces have the additional benefit of reserve aircraft to provide support when aircraft are offline for scheduled maintenance as well as a national central Despatch and Flight Monitoring service which is based in Bradford, West Yorkshire. 

ACPO lead for NPAS, Chief Constable Alex Marshall said, “I am delighted that the North West Region joins NPAS today, a service that will provide efficient and effective air service for the public of England and Wales. Police forces in the North West have already shown that NPAS works and the significant benefits that borderless tasking can bring to the region.  As part of NPAS, we will build upon the good work that has been achieved by these forces to ensure that operational effectiveness as well as innovative contracts providing additional savings be achieved.”

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