How air support is deployed

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) Operations Centre operates 24 hours a day, year-round and manages requests for air support from all police forces and other agencies across England and Wales.

Requests are processed by a team of experienced Flight Despatchers. To meet the criteria to receive air support, police officers have to demonstrate that a significant level of threat, risk or harm is posed to an individual, to communities or to property and that a police helicopter is required to support police officers on the ground in their response. If the request meets the criteria, the nearest available aircraft and crew are sent in response to tasks, whether they are airborne at the time or taking off from one of our network of air bases or elsewhere.

Before, during and after all flights, crews are in continuous radio contact with the NPAS Operations Centre, not only to ensure that stringent national safety requirements are met but also that real-time information about the location of our full fleet is available across our organisation to aid decision-making and the prioritisation of resources.

Through local police forces, the NPAS Operations Centre is also able to provide assistance to partner organisations such as the Fire Service and British Transport Police, as well as liaising with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Search and Rescue service.