Police chief fears South Yorkshire could be left without force helicopter

The force's 'eye in the sky'.
The force's 'eye in the sky'.
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SOUTH Yorkshire’s Chief Constable has expressed his frustration that his force does not yet know whether it is to retain its helicopter.

Med Hughes told The Star he hoped the force helicopter avoids the axe when a National Police Air Service is launched next year.

The Government plans to reduce the number of helicopters available to the police and if the proposal gets the go-ahead Sheffield will no longer be an air base.

The county’s police force will have to rely on helicopters from elsewhere being available when needed.

Chf Con Hughes said: “We have not yet resolved our air support issues. I am finding it frustrating that we can’t immediately reassure the people of South Yorkshire that they are going to get an effective air support unit.

“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.

“I was disappointed to see Yorkshire Air Ambulance move away from the city and am anxious to make sure that Sheffield is recognised as a big city.”

The National Police Air Service is expected to save around £15 million.

Currently helicopters are operated by individual forces.

NPAS Chf Con Alex Marshall said: “While the current service is capable of doing its day job, artificial boundaries have meant that helicopters are restricted to operating within their own force area.

“A national, borderless service will ensure effective coverage of urban and rural areas.“