Gwent Police, February 02, 2015 - Yesterday, Sunday 1 February, Gwent and South Wales Police joined the National Police Air Service (NPAS).
NPAS, which began managing police air services in October 2012, has extended its operations into Wales meaning that almost every force in England and Wales is either part of the service, or is scheduled to join.
Utilising the existing base at RAF St Athan - the airfield is just a few minutes flying time from Cardiff and boasts an EC135 helicopter, which will serve the communities of South Wales and Gwent and beyond whenever air support is required.
When air support is required, NPAS is designed to enable staff on the ground to make use of the nearest available aircraft ensuring value-for-money for the Forces involved. So previously, when forces had their own aircraft, if that one was unavailable for whatever reason there was no back up. NPAS has a programme of aircraft upgrades - and with aircraft receiving upgraded mission systems the fleet can be moved around to ensure aircraft availability for operational requirements.
Operational Support Superintendent, Mark Warrender said:
"The work of our Air Support Unit is extremely valuable in everyday policing. The resource can respond quickly, and be called upon to clear wide areas when searching for missing people, offenders and suspect vehicles, saving hours of police officer time.
"Joining NPAS will provide the Force with more resilience, and I am confident the Force will receive an enhanced level of service."
With NPAS, if a helicopter is unavailable because it is on another task or is grounded for maintenance, then there are additional aircraft that officers on the ground can call on for support.
Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ian Johnston added:
"Air support is a valuable tool in the fight against crime and forms an integral part of operational policing. Gwent Police and South Wales Police have been operating as a consortium to provide air support for their Force areas for a number of years.
"Following detailed negotiations with NPAS, I am assured we will be able to provide a high quality level of service for the people of Gwent which will also deliver better value for money. This National service means that we can call on air support from a number of different locations around the UK as and when required."