Online updates on police chopper

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A POLICE force is launching online updates about its helicopter so people can get to know what the eye in the sky is up to.

Helicopter Watch has been started by Cleveland Police so people can read daily announcements about what the force’s copter has been up to.

The updates are available by visiting the force’s and Cleveland Police Authority’s websites.

The Eurocopter EC135 P2i was bought three months ago and has already attended 550 incidents, helped arrest 109 people and is said to have saved 148,641 officer hours by searching large areas.

Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Sean Price, said: “We frequently get asked about what the helicopter is doing so we hope that people will find Helicopter Watch interesting and useful.”

The helicopter is said to be among the most advanced pieces of police equipment in the world and is able to operate at a higher level than the previous chopper to try and be less intrusive to the public.

The improved quality of its camera combined with the altitude it can fly at is also said to make it quicker to gather evidence over larger areas, and help make more arrests.

The cutting-edge technology allows digital information to be transmitted to the force’s control room and onto mobile devices and desktops of officers.

Chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, Councillor Dave McLuckie, said the helicopter’s benefits are important due to Teesside’s heavy industry, the nuclear power station in Hartlepool and a large network of roads.

He added: “Any of these could instantly become the centre of a major incident. The helicopter means we can police these and all other suitable incidents, quickly and efficiently.

“During the debate over whether or not Cleveland Police should indeed have a helicopter, members of the public made it very clear that they thought it was a very important weapon in the fight against crime. I agreed then and I agree now.

“At the same time, they also expressed an interest in finding out more about how and when the helicopter is used. This new service being launched today goes a long way towards enabling us to meet that public interest.”

In the last three months, the helicopter has also airlifted two casualties to hospital, attended 76 incidents involving missing people, assisted with 19 vehicle pursuits and attended 80 burglary incidents and 16 firearms incidents.