PLANS for South Yorkshire to retain its own police helicopter have nose-dived after the Government ordered police forces to share choppers.
South Yorkshire Police chiefs are against plans for a National Police Air Service which will see the county losing its own dedicated helicopter and having to share resources with neighbouring forces.
Under the plan, incidents in South Yorkshire requiring a police helicopter will be dealt with by choppers based in West Yorkshire, Humberside and Derbyshire, prompting fears response times will increase.
Policing Minister Nick Herbert has announced he will use powers under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to order forces to collaborate with each other.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police Authority, which oversees how the force is run and performs, said: “The authority remains committed to ensuring there is an effective and resilient air support for the county. We don’t disagree with the National Police Air Service proposals in principle, but we require reassurances from Government that the national scheme will not reduce services.
“The authority will speak with NPAS to seek further clarification on this issue.”
Sheffield MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett said: “I fear that the efforts to determine locally what is best for policing in our area has been once again over ridden by national diktat, despite the Home Office claiming that they are going to give greater freedom for local police services to make decisions.
“I’m sorry that what has been seem as a major contributor to the substantial fall in crime s now going to be subject to considerable bureaucracy, slowdown in response times and an inevitable clash between South Yorkshire and its neighbours to the south and north in prioritising the reduced availability of the helicopter.”