Police air cover to be available 24/7 as Dyfed-Powys joins NPAS

11-Nov-2015

The people of Dyfed-Powys will soon have police air cover available 24/7.

They will benefit from the use of several National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopters along with – in due course – police aeroplanes.

Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, will remain as an NPAS forward operating base for the time being to support operations.

The new arrangements will cost local taxpayers £890,000 a year from January – around £275,000 less than in 2014-15.

The current Dyfed-Powys Police air service operates for around 12 hours a day with one helicopter.

The improvements come as the local service transfers from Dyfed-Powys Police to NPAS. All forces in England and Wales must join this.

The new arrangements are the result of tough negotiations with NPAS led by Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon.

Chief Constable Simon Prince will discuss details with local politicians this Friday.

Mr Salmon said: “I’m pleased we’ve been able to secure this deal for the people of Dyfed-Powys. It represents many hours of detailed negotiations since Pembrey came under immediate threat in February.

“I believe the agreement strikes a sensible compromise between service, cost and endurance over the entire force area.

“The unique nature of Dyfed-Powys, a huge, largely rural area, brings particular challenges. It was crucial that we took the time to get the right deal.

“Joining NPAS brings access to 24-hour cover, reduced costs and greater reliability; no longer will we have repair bills and maintenance down-time.

“ We had no choice but to join NPAS and the nature of negotiation means we haven’t got everything we wanted – but this is the best possible deal for Dyfed-Powys.

“I’m pleased that NPAS have agreed to retain Pembrey as a base for the foreseeable future. This shows they recognise our concerns and represents a meaningful and pragmatic response.

“I’m confident that the extra hours the service will operate and the reduced costs will deliver real value for money and help us keep more officers on our rural beats in the future.

“I would like to thank local politicians – including councillors, Simon Hart MP, Jonathan Edwards MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM for championing Dyfed-Powys’s corner. Strong local voices have helped me secure this deal for the people of this region.

“I’d like to thank the Chief Constable and NPAS for their work on this agreement; I’m grateful for the huge amount of effort and thought that has gone into our talks.

“Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to thank the staff and crew of X-99 for all they have done and continue to do on behalf of Dyfed-Powys. They have remained dedicated and loyal in their service to the public through a period of great uncertainty.

NPAS Accountable Manager, Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, said: “The journey to bring all forces in England and Wales into NPAS started in October 2012 and, prior to forces joining there have always, quite rightly been concerns from local areas about the service they will receive.

“We have robust mechanisms in place to ensure that we will improve upon the current service and I am absolutely certain that given the borderless tasking that we operate there will be a significant improvement in air support coverage in the region.

“The fact that aircraft are available for tasking 24 hours a day as opposed to 12 hours -and with reserve aircraft in our fleet meaning maintenance downtime is minimised – will ensure that is the case. I will be personally monitoring the service we provide.

“We will work closely with the force and local communities to ensure we build on the current service provided by the air support unit at Dyfed-Powys who are extremely committed.

“We are making arrangements for those staff, who have the knowledge and experience of the local area, to join NPAS. They have done a fantastic job for the local communities and, by retaining those staff, they will bring their knowledge and experience to our organisation which can only benefit this important collaboration.”

Mr Prince and Mr Whitehouse are due to discuss the new arrangements with Dyfed-Powys politicians on Friday, November 13.

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