Fears over loss of South Yorkshire police helicopter

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SHEFFIELD MP David Blunkett has raised concerns over the crime-fighting capability of South Yorkshire Police when the force loses its own dedicated helicopter.

The Labour MP for Brightside and Hillsborough spoke out after the force released details of how many incidents the helicopter crew dealt with last year.

It made 1,140 flights, was directly responsible for 255 arrests, helped locate 36 missing people and helped in the apprehension of another 391 suspects. Helicopter staff also located 148 stolen cars and property worth £2.7 million.

South Yorkshire is set to lose its own dedicated chopper when the National Police Air Service is launched in April, which will involve forces sharing helicopters in a bid to save cash.

South Yorkshire Police will have to share helicopters based in West Yorkshire, Humberside and Derbyshire – leading to fears response times will increase.

Mr Blunkett said: “We’re going to miss this dedicated facility and will need to think imaginatively about how to use the alternative in what is a rapidly changing picture for crime in the city.

“Some types of criminality are particularly susceptible to detection and effective capture, and clearly those crimes will be harder to deal with.”