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Region's police helicopters to become part of national air service

By This is Devon  |  Posted: October 02, 2012

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Police forces in the Westcountry will be losing their dedicated force helicopters in a bid to save £15 million.

Police helicopters will remain in Devon, Somerset and Dorset but will serve under the National Police Air Service name.

Devon & Cornwall's force helicopter will be leaving its force headquarters at Middlemoor in Exeter and be homed at Exeter International Airport.

It will primarily respond to the Devon and Cornwall Force area.

The National Police Air Service will be replacing the 43 force helicopter operations in England and Wales with 25 aircraft at 23 bases.

The three aircraft across Devon & Cornwall, Dorset and Avon & Somerset forces will become part of the national service in July 2013.

Dorset police's helicopter at the force's headquarters at Winfrith will move to Bournemouth Airport.

Avon & Somerset's helicopter will stay at Filton near Bristol.

A spokesman for Devon & Cornwall police said: "The public in Devon and Cornwall should not notice much of a difference with the new Police National Air Service operating in the south west. The main difference is that the helicopter will be tasked centrally but can still respond to local tasking.

"We believe there will be better resilience – we will get assistance from other areas such as Dorset if required (like we do now). Equally we will assist other areas if they need us to (like we do now)."

The force said there will be three spare helicopters as part of the PNAS which will be used when the main helicopters are being maintained and are therefore out of service, something that is not currently available to Devon and Cornwall.

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