The National Police Air Service (NPAS) provides all police forces in England and Wales with air support.
Police forces request NPAS to assist them with a variety of tasks. This includes searches for suspects and missing people, vehicle pursuits, public order, counter-terrorism and firearms incidents, among others. During tasks, NPAS crews make use of state-of-the-art cameras and communicate directly with ground units and force control rooms, as they work together to help keep communities safe.
A borderless service is provided with a fleet of helicopters and aeroplanes, flying from a network of bases. Flights are managed by the NPAS Operations Centre, based in West Yorkshire.
NPAS was formed in October 2012 following a national review of air support by the Home Office and is delivered by West Yorkshire Police as the lead force – a unique arrangement in UK policing. All 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales and British Transport Police contribute funding for NPAS.
There are three main governance bodies for NPAS:
- At the top sits the National Strategic Board comprising a Chief Officer and Police and Crime Commissioner for each of the NPAS regions, a representative of the Home Secretary and the National Business Area Lead for Police Aviation.
- Underneath the Strategic Board sits the Independent Assurance Group (IAG). The IAG is comprised of a representative at Assistant Chief Constable level from the NPAS regions and is responsible for reviewing the operational performance of the service.
- The third level of governance is within West Yorkshire Police. The West Yorkshire Mayor took over from the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner in 2021 to lead a board that supports the NPAS Accountable Manager with matters affecting the day-to-day running of the service. Find out more about the Combined Authority for West Yorkshire
NPAS also works closely with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure it is a safe operation at all times.