Lancashire set to lose police helicopter base

The police helicopter based in Lancashire is due to go in March.
The police helicopter based in Lancashire is due to go in March.
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Lancashire is set to lose its police helicopter base despite campaigns to save it.

The police helicopter G-LASU will be leaving Warton in Lancashire on March 20 and will not be returning, says Save the Lancashire Police Helicopter Base on their Facebook page.

Our genuine fear is that this will put police officer safety in jeopardy, along with the safety of our communities

This means that any helicopter cover required by police will have to be resourced from neighbouring counties.

The crew of G-LASU were the very first resource on the scene of the cockling disaster in Morecambe in 2004and talked in the Morecambe lifeboat to help save Li Hua, a survivor

The helicopter has also been invaluable in car chases, missing persons searches and searching for criminals from the air.A National Police Air Service spokesman said: “While NPAS Warton will remain open until April 2017, it is possible some of the services they currently provide will be delivered by other local NPAS bases sooner than that in order to most effectively manage the closure process.

“Alongside this closure, more NPAS bases are operating 24 hours. NPAS Barton and NPAS Hawarden along with others across the rest of England and Wales already provide a service 24/7.

“The National Police Air Service (NPAS) is a unique national collaboration across England and Wales providing a truly borderless service.

“Police forces in need of air support contact the NPAS Operations Centre and receive support from the nearest available aircraft at the time.

“NPAS currently provides this support from 17 bases across England and Wales

“Through this network, NPAS are normally able to reach 98 per cent of the population of England and Wales within 20 minutes. By April 2017, NPAS will be operating from 15 24/7 bases across England and Wales and with this provision, will continue to protect local communities from threat, harm and risk in line with police and crime plans.“

Chairman of the Police Federation Rachel Baines said: “Our genuine fear is that this will put police officer safety in jeopardy, along with the safety of our communities.The air support provides a service to officers on the ground that cannot be replicated.

“During the Christmas floods in 2015, the service provided by air support was invaluable.

“The decision to close Warton is flawed and will only serve to further erode Policing in Lancashire.”