The Lancashire Constabulary had its own Police Helicopter since 1994 and on the 18 th July 2011, the Lancashire Police Helicopter ON99, joined the newly formed North West Air Operations Group (NWAOG).
Police forces in the North West worked together to deliver an improved air support service, that delivered 24/7 cover and borderless tasking that enabled 5 forces to cope better with demand, with efficient use of all 4 helicopters, whilst enabling forces to make further savings and maintain resilience across the region.
The 5 primary forces involved were Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester , Cheshire and North Wales . Cover was still be provided to Cumbria as it was under the old Lancashire policy.
This was a move away from the concept of having one helicopter serving one force, to adopting the identity of one unit with support provided to all 5 forces. If an aircraft is needed in an area, for example, but the closest is already out on a job, then the regional control centre will contact one of the other aircrafts to ensure the nearest available aircraft is deployed to meet the needs in a quick and efficient manner.
In October 2012 NWAOG joined the newly formed National Police Air Service which will provide a national, borderless service making use of the nearest aircraft meaning that the police service's response will, in many cases, be enhanced over current provision.
In 2009, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) undertook a review of the 1993 National Air Operations Strategy. The review concluded that the existing arrangements for the delivery of air support were highly fragmented and did not provide value for money.
Based on the recommendations, a joint ACPO/National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) NPAS project team, headed by Hampshire Chief Constable Alex Marshall QPM as the ACPO lead on air operations was established.
In October 2010, Chief Constable Alex Marshall presented a paper at Chief Constables’ Council that set out three options for the future delivery of air support across England and Wales. The agreed option involved reducing the number of air bases and aircraft by moving to a national model of delivery and by making changes to the size and organisation of the fleet. Through further consultation with individual Police Forces and Police Authorities, the model has been refined and involves a reduction from 30 to 23 bases delivering savings of around 20% of current costs.
Under the 23 base model, the aircraft fleet will be reduced from 31 aircraft to 25 plus 3 reserve aircraft to provide coverage when other aircraft are undergoing scheduled maintenance, refurbishment or repair. This will increase overall aircraft availability by 8%.
Under the National Collaboration Agreement for NPAS West Yorkshire Police is the lead force and are responsible for the delivery of the service. This ensures that NPAS is led and owned by the police service and delivers the operational benefits and financial savings that have been presented to individual police authorities.
For More information on the NPAS please goto their website