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Concerns over Winfrith police helicopter relocation
5:00pm Wednesday 10th October 2012 in News
A BRIDPORT councillor has condemned plans to relocate the police helicopter under a shake-up of aircraft.
Coun David Tett said he was very concerned at proposals to move the aircraft from its base at the Winfrith police headquarters to Bournemouth airport.
Coun Tett said: “In any accident or emergency, time is very much of the essence.
“Any delay could, therefore, put life at risk in having to travel the extra distance or even where the helicopter is deployed elsewhere “This effectively is a cut in the service provided with very little thought, if any, given to the cost of life; moreover, it also undermines the security of those living in West Dorset.”
After a report given to the Dorset Police Authority by Chief Constable Martin Baker, members agreed in principle to the move.
It could see the force share a service with Hampshire Police and Devon and Cornwall.
It comes amid proposals to create a National Police Air Service (NPAS) next summer – operating 25 aircraft at 23 bases.
Mr Baker told members the service was an ‘excellent asset for Dorset’ but proved to be ‘quite expensive for a small force’.
He added: “We’re not abandoning anything in operational terms.
“The move of the helicopter to Bournemouth is to the place it is deployed the majority of the time.”
John Jones, assistant chief officer, reminded members that the move to Bournemouth would increase the flying time to West Dorset and Weymouth and Portland.
As part of cost-saving measures, the force has to make £18m of cuts in four years. It claims more than £450,000 each year could be saved.
The National Police Air Service (NPAS) aims to merge air support in England and Wales.