Police helicopter presence to remain

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SOUTH Yorkshire is set to keep its own Sheffield-based police helicopter for 10 hours a day after the county’s police authority approved proposals to join a new national service on a shared basis.

The aircraft will be available on a 10-hour shift for seven days a week, 365 days a year, while the county will also have access to the National Police Air Service from bases in West Yorkshire, Humberside and Derbyshire for the remaining 14 hours each day.

South Yorkshire Police Authority said it had agreed ‘in principle’ to join the nationwide scheme on a shared basis, after raising concerns that the initial plans did not provide sufficient cover for the county.

Charles Perryman, the authority’s chairman, said the new arrangement was a ‘massive improvement’ on joining the national service full-time.

“The change will see South Yorkshire being covered by a helicopter service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the first time. This is a significant development in providing modern and effective policing to the county,” he said.

“The original proposals were unacceptable and if the police authority had not challenged the national plans we wouldn’t be getting this improved resilience, which is a massive improvement.”

South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable, David Crompton, said the Sheffield chopper will be available to cover the ‘peak period’.

“Throughout the negotiations, the force has always maintained that it would oppose any proposals that would see a significant reduction in service,” he added.

The new arrangement will not be more expensive than the current service, the authority said.