Loco parentis wrote:Helicopters ?? What are the hourly operational costs of this un-necessary luxury? Helicopters, when we know how impossible it is to get a single bobby to investigate a humble burglary. Why ? back comes the screech from the Police Federation or media sources that they can't afford it.
Will we ever get our priorities sorted ?
The Hungerford massacre in 1987 was a very significant driver in the widespread introduction of police air support, and more specifically helicopters. At the time, Wiltshire police were ‘experimenting’ with the use of a helicopter fitted with nothing more than a police radio in the hands of a police officer. It enabled the police to safely track the unpredictable movement of Michael Ryan. Coordinating the positioning of police resources and evacuating relevant areas before his arrival. It is beyond doubt this shortened the event and saved many lives.
Once the decision is taken to provide law enforcement with air support, due to the fixed costs involved, the difference between flying the machine, and not flying is relatively trivial.
The deterrent effect of it’s mere rapid availability should not be underestimated.
Police air support can be justified financially purely on the basis that it is a force multiplier
. Doing the work of many officers and resources. It can attend and search quickly for a vulnerable missing person on one side of the force area. Rapidly switch to a vehicle pursuit in another. Then attend and contain a burglary/armed robbery awaiting the arrival of the dog section/firearms.
Is it expensive for a single resource? It probably looks that way to some. However it can represent great value, because it can do the work of many resources. Almost always quicker and often better.
Sadly the way that it has developed in recent years with the advent of a more centralised NPAS has effectively neutered all of the advantages the earlier iteration delivered. All ‘allegedly’ to save money and despite it doing little of the sort!
I was a police pilot (rotary and fixed wing) throughout the 90s. On occasion we did land the helicopter and my police observers made arrests.
I should probably add, Loco parentis, I also flew air ambulance helicopters. The difference between the two was stark! Arrive anywhere in a marked police vehicle, and nobody’s
happy to see you. Arrive anywhere in an ambulance, especially a flying one, and everyone’s
happy to see you. So attitudes like yours aren’t unusual. Merely misguided.