THE South Yorkshire Police helicopter flew 1,140 missions across the county’s skies helping to track criminals and looking for missing people last year.
Figures released by the force’s air operations unit revealed that airborne staff in the helicopter were directly responsible for officers on the ground making 255 arrests.
The helicopter was also involved in helping officers make another 391 arrests.
It was used in search missions where 36 missing people were found.
The helicoper was also involved in police operations leading to the recovery of 148 stolen vehicles and stolen property worth £2.7 million.
The figures were released ahead of South Yorkshire losing its own dedicated police helicopter in April when a National Police Air Service is launched.
The Government introduced the national service to reduce the number of helicopters in use, in a bid to reduce costs.
Neighbouring forces will now share choppers, with the fleet reducing from 33 to 22 nationally.
South Yorkshire will now be served by helicopters based in Derbyshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside.
The county will retain its helicopter base for staff to land and refuel, but a helicopter will no longer be based in Sheffield. However, air crew members will be ready to respond to calls within seconds.
The Association of Police Chief Officers said the new service will ‘provide more efficient and accessible air support to the police service that offers better value for money’.
It is estimated that the new service will result in savings of £15 million a year.
The plan has been fought against in South Yorkshire over concerns that the policing of the county will suffer.
Before his retirement, South Yorkshire’s former Chief Constable Med Hughes was vocal in his opposition to South Yorkshire losing its own helicopter.
He said: “While some people think a helicopter is a luxury, most people understand a helicopter provides a really good life-saving service for the people of South Yorkshire.”
Helicopter in numbers:
Number of flights the police helicopter made in South Yorkshire last year - 1,140
Number of arrests the helicopter was directly responsible for officers making - 255
Number of arrest the police helicopter played a part in last year - 391