Fears for Hartlepool policing when helicopter is lost

Cleveland Police helicopter is set to be scrapped amid budget cuts.
Cleveland Police helicopter is set to be scrapped amid budget cuts.

HARTLEPOOL Borough Council is seeking a reassurance that the closure of the police helicopter unit will not affect policing of the town.

The council wants reassurance from Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner that the decision to withdraw the police helicopter base at Durham Tees Valley Airport will not have a detrimental effect on policing services in Hartlepool.

Coun Ray Martin-Wells

Coun Ray Martin-Wells

It has been announced that the National Police Air Service (NPAS) would cease from using Durham Tees Valley Airport at the end of March 2015, due to pressures on police budgets.

From April 2015, there will be 15 airport bases under the new NPAS model, with the nearest one to Hartlepool being Newcastle.

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chairman of the Council’s Audit and Governance Committee, has written to Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland in the wake of the announcement.

Coun Martin-Wells said: “I have written to Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner to seek a reassurance that the decision to withdraw Durham Tees Valley Airport as a helicopter base from April 2015 will not have an adverse effect on policing in Hartlepool.

With a reduced number of police officers at their disposal, aerial support from helicopters is vital to community safety and catching criminals.

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells

“Everyone is well aware of the significant financial pressures that the police are under, and with a reduced number of police officers at their disposal, aerial support from helicopters is vital to community safety and catching criminals.

“Community safety and reducing crime remain top priorities for the people of Hartlepool and it’s vital that we have the most effective mechanisms in place within the resources available to best serve our town.”

The National Police Air Service (Npas) will shut the site at Durham Tees Valley Airport as part of its plans to make a “borderless national collaboration”, which will see aircraft from across the country pooled to serve all forces, as previously reported by the Mail.

NPAS bosses aim to save cash by streamlining services across the country reducing its operating bases from 25 to 15 – with Newcastle International Airport’s site surviving the cull.

Mr Coppinger previously said he would monitor the situation.