LLANELLI MP Nia Griffiths has described the latest independent report on police air services as ‘shocking’.
Responding to the findings of the report Nia Griffith MP said,
“This report is shocking and highlights the very problems we warned about back in 2015. These figures show an average response time of nearly an hour (57.36) for Dyfed Powys which is well above the England / Wales average of about 30 minutes, and only some 30% of our police force’s requests for an air support have actually been met, which is less than the average. In other words, we as taxpayers in Dyfed Powys are just not getting our money’s worth – we are paying in but not getting our fair share. This all goes back to the decision in 2015 by the then Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner who ignored our protests and was all too eager to give up our state- of- the- art Police Helicopter base at Pembrey and sign up to the National Police Air Service (NPAS). And now this report tells us the NPAS is financially unsustainable, with insufficient funding to replace its ageing fleet of aircraft. We need urgent action to get a decent helicopter service back, so I’ll be calling on the current Police and Crime Commissioner to step up to the mark, and take this fight to the Home Office. You simply cannot do security on the cheap.”
The full report can be downloaded here: planes-drones-and-helicopters-an-independent-study-of-poli… (1)
A synopsis of the report concludes:
We believe that a national collaboration can be an efficient and effective way of providing police air support. But a lot more work is needed to understand the nature and level of air support that individual police forces require.
The level of service provided to many forces is lower than we expected to find, and many incidents are over before an aircraft can reach the scene.
NPAS in its current form is financially unsustainable: the capital investment strategy has left NPAS without adequate funding to replace its ageing fleet of aircraft.
Dyfed-Powys Police had a below average proportion of calls for service to NPAS by each force that actually resulted in attendance of an aircraft (just over 30%).
Dyfed-Powys Police had an average response times in excess of 50 minutes (57:36) in 2016; the second highest of the areas measured and well above the England/Wales average (approx. 30 mins).
Every force was expected to make a saving; these ranged from a reduction in revenue cost of 74 percent for Dyfed-Powys Police to one of 6 percent for Lincolnshire Police.
When NPAS began operation in 2012, the revenue contributions due from each force were set out in schedules to the collaboration agreement, and in some cases the force contributions were significantly different from the amounts estimated in 2010.
The annual contribution estimated in 2010 for Dyfed-Powys Police was £357,781, whereas the amount charged for its first year of NPAS service was £891,000.
For its contribution of £891,000, Dyfed-Powys Police would receive 349 flying hours of air support, representing a cost per flying hour of £2,553.
High charges per head of population for Dyfed-Powys Police and North Wales Police were not matched by quick response times. In the case of North Wales Police, the high cost might have been explained by the fact that the force is an above-average user of air support, but the opposite was the case for Dyfed-Powys Police.
The high amounts paid by some forces were partly due to these having significantly fewer actioned calls for service in 2016 than in 2015 (a reduction of 50 percent for Dyfed-Powys Police); effectively, they were paying in 2016 for the higher number of calls made in 2015.