Helicopter aid helps snare 400 suspects in Nottinghamshire last year

Almost 400 suspects were arrested in Nottinghamshire with the assistance of the helicopter support unit during 2011.

Statistics released by the North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit, based at Ripley in Derbyshire, reveal that in addition to helping trace the 391 suspects, the crews also searched for 125 missing people and found 45 stolen or suspect vehicles.

The unit, which is jointly owned with Derbyshire Constabulary, spent a total of 384 hours in the air dealing with incidents in Nottinghamshire.

John Jameson, North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit Executive Officer, said: “Thanks to the crews, many suspects were apprehended who may have evaded capture if the helicopter had not attended an incident.

“Sometimes, when the conditions are not suitable for a land ambulance and the police helicopter is close to a scene, it can be used as an air ambulance, saving valuable time when transporting a casualty to hospital.”

He added, “Planning is now underway to create a National Police Air Service. With economies of scale that such an organisation will bring and with the nearest helicopter attending an incident, Nottinghamshire should see an even more effective service at a reduced cost.”

The transition to the national arrangement is scheduled for April 2012, with the central region, including Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, expected to join it in the following year.

Since July 2011, the four police helicopters in the Midlands have been working together as a ‘shadow service’ of the national scheme.

Nottinghamshire has benefitted from the availability of a neighbouring helicopter when the local aircraft has been off-line due to servicing.