New colours for National Police Air Service helicopter

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A West Yorkshire police helicopter is set to take to the skies with a new look.

The helicopter, which is based in Wakefield, was transferred to National Police Air Service (NPAS) control by West Yorkshire Police last year.

NPAS provides a national, borderless service in a bid to tackle crime from the skies.

The helicopter, which helps to deliver a regionally co-ordinated response to emergency calls, has been painted in the official NPAS colours to mark the final stages of the move.

Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, who is the accountable manager for NPAS, said: “It’s business as usual for West Yorkshire Police and the people the force serves.

“When a helicopter is asked for we get the nearest available aircraft into the air as quickly as possible and we also continue to provide aircraft for large-scale public events.

“Painting the helicopter in the new NPAS colours simply marks the final transition of the aircraft into NPAS control.”

NPAS aircraft will be placed in 23 strategic locations across the country.

It is believed that when all forces in England and Wales join NPAS will provide an air service to almost 98 per cent of the population.

Reserve aircraft are also provided when aircraft are off-line for maintenance to minimise any reduction in service.

The Yorkshire Evening Post understands that the decision to sign up to NPAS will save up to £15m a year compared to the cost of previous arrangements when all forces join NPAS.

When the response is fully formed NPAS will serve all 43 forces in England and Wales under a lead force model.

West Yorkshire is at the heart of a new system for co-ordinating the nation’s police helicopters.

The county’s force is acting as the hub of the new National Police Air Service and its 25 aircraft.

It is responsible for delivering the service and a new despatch centre in Bradford.


The NPAS plan followed a review in 2009 by Bernard Hogan-Howe the then Merseyside chief constable which said too many forces refused to allow their helicopters to be used by neighbouring forces.

The new national police air service is being co-ordinated by West Yorkshire Police.

Its “assets” – including 22 aircraft, mainly helicopters – to be stationed at 20 bases around England and Wales.

It is argued the new system will improve operational effectiveness and save money.

When the response is fully formed NPAS will serve all 43 forces in England and Wales.

When all of the forces in the country are signed up to the scheme NPAS will provide an air service of up to almost 98 per cent of the population of the country.