Ten police helicopter bases to be closed down

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The police helicopter base in Sheffield is to be axed next year as part of cost-cutting plans that will see ten sites closed nationwide.

South Yorkshire has been served by a helicopter based at Sheffield for 10 hours a day since 2013. For the remaining 14 hours a day the county is served by aircraft from neighbouring National Police Air Service (NPAS) bases in West Yorkshire, Humberside and Derbyshire.

It was announced yesterday that the Sheffield base is due to close on February 1, 2016, while the site in Ripley, Derbyshire, will close on January 31, 2016.

It means the NPAS base in Wakefield will be the only one serving Yorkshire, though bosses say helicopters from other parts of the country will cover the region as before. Humberside Police has its own helicopter.

The service, which has had to make savings of £11m a year, or 23 per cent of its budget, will have 19 helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft in its fleet, meaning the overall number will not change.

Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse of NPAS said: “NPAS needs to find further substantial financial savings with a target of 14 per cent of revenue cuts over the next three years, on top of the 23 per cent savings already made.

“Local police forces facing similar savings are looking at how they rationalise their estate and ways of operating and NPAS is no different in this regard. There is no easy way of doing this and difficult decisions have to be made.”