Residents anger against police helicopter cuts

South Yorkshire police Helicopter in Action
South Yorkshire police Helicopter in Action

THE police helicopter will soon take double the time to get to Doncaster if new plans are approved.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is proposing to shut down the Sheffield Air Operations base, as part of a bid to save £15 million from its budget.

Instead police air teams based either at Carr Gate near Wakefield, Humberside Airport or Ripley in Derbyshire will be called to Doncaster, which ACPO says will double flight times from eight minutes to more than 16 minutes.

The helicopter would not automatically be deployed at Doncaster Rovers home matches unless it was deemed likely that there would be trouble under the plans.

But the move to create central air hubs has proved unpopular with the public with more than 50 people taking part in a live South Yorkshire Police webchat and each voting against the plans.

Charles Perryman, chair of South Yorkshire Police Authority said: “The live debate was an overwhelming success.

“The majority of comments were in favour of keeping the helicopter. The public seem as unconvinced with the proposals as members of the Police Authority are.”

In 2010 to 2011 there were more than 1,100 police helicopter flights above Doncaster, which made up almost a quarter of the call. It equated to more than 260 hours above the borough.

On Monday the air operations team was over Doncaster to help ground teams find two people who were suspected of stealing a motorbike before running off into woods. The helicopter, known as SYN99, helped direct officers through the woods to help find them.

And last weekend the air crew spotted two children in Edlington playing on a frozen lake and directed officers to help them to safety.

Under the plans a National Police Air Support service will be created,replacing the existing helicopter based in Sheffield. It will see 23 aircraft fly from 20 bases around the country, cutting the number of choppers by ten.

For more on the planned restructure visit www.southyorks.gov.uk