Police helicopter base to remain at Filton Airfield

Helicopter of the the Western Counties Air Operations Unit.

Avon and Somerset Police have confirmed that a police helicopter will continue to be based at Filton Airfield when the new National Police Air Service is launched.

In October 2012, the National Police Air Service will begin adopting responsibility for police air operations from individual forces to the new service.

In July 2013, Avon and Somerset will become part of the south-west region of the National Police Air Service. The move will create a national, borderless service which will ensure there is flexible, effective coverage for both urban and rural areas.

In recent months discussions have been underway with the National Police Air Service and other local forces about where the regional base will be for a police helicopter. Despite earlier fears that it might be moved to RAF Colerne in Wiltshire, it has now been agreed that Filton airfield will provide the best operational base for the police helicopter.

Making the announcement, Assistant Chief Constable Rod Hansen said:

“I am pleased to confirm that the police helicopter will be based at Filton. There are sound operational reasons for using Filton as a base and I am confident that we will continue to have a fast, reliable and effective air service in Avon and Somerset and the wider region.”

Plans for the National Police Air Service were announced in October 2010 and will allow police forces across England and Wales to save around £15m a year. Currently there are 30 police air bases serving 32 aircraft but under the plan there will be 22 bases each hosting air support. Recently West Yorkshire Police Authority agreed to become the lead force for the National Police Air Service.

The new service brings an added benefit of offering multiple aircraft able to respond over the force area whereas in the past this was rarely possible.

Source: Press release from Avon and Somerset Police

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  1. Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti commented today:

    “The proposal to close the Helicopter unit at Filton and move it to RAF Colerne in Wiltshire would have had a very serious effect on the aircraft’s ability to reach incidents in the local area in an acceptable timescale. We started a campaign to prevent the move locally and I would like to thank all of my constituents who signed the petition on my website. As a result of the concerns I met with the Home Secretary and asked her to assess the implications of any move. I also brought the issue to the attention of Parliament in two debates and asked Parliamentary Questions to the Home office. It was clear to us that the flying time alone from RAF Colerne is approaching 20 minutes, leaving nothing at all to allow for communication difficulties and start up times. We submitted that the proposed move would make the aircrafts’ ability to provide any meaningful service to Bristol almost impossible.”

    “I am therefore delighted with the announcement and very pleased that the National Police Air Service has recognised the sound operational reasons for using Filton as a base.”

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