We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

NPAS will need new operating model following West Yorkshire’s withdrawal

Twelve months formal notice given to end ‘ownership’ of aircraft, contracts and air base leases

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) will have to be provided with a new strategic operating model within the next 12 months after PCCs expressed concern that ownership of the service would be transferred to West Yorkshire’s new elected regional mayor.

Under existing arrangements West Yorkshire's outgoing PCC Mark Burns-Williamson was the legal entity for contracts, governance and the owner of the helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, most of which transferred from other PCCs when NPAS was formally created in 2014, as well as the majority of the air base leases.

Before the election of a new regional mayor Mr Burns-Williamson wrote to Policing Minister Kit Malthouse to say that Police and Crime Commissioners and NPAS Board members have “expressed their concern” that control of the service would transfer to the new combined authority.

Last week Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin following a meeting with Mr Malthouse gave 12 months formal notice to cease the role that West Yorkshire plays as the lead local policing body for NPAS.

This will bring to an end West Yorkshire Police's tenure as the de facto operating body for UK policing’s national airline.

As well as having a dedicated West Yorkshire ACC Scott Bisset at chief operating officer, the force also bore the brunt of the initial HR, back office and financial support costs.

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Panel regularly raised questions about the force’s role in NPAS.  

They have complained that it is a “difficult and time consuming area of work” for the force and it has been difficult to get consensus on funding which often requires 3-4 years lead times for procurement of new aircraft. 

There is also ongoing work looking at national specialist capabilities and it is hoped that a new model for funding can be developed and rolled out across the different specialist areas.

Questions have also been raised about Home Office commitments to help fund the service which is in the middle of a fleet upgrade with plans for developing a specialist drones capability.

There was a working assumption that, as in the past, the capital receipts would be underwritten by Government

This was also highlighted in Mayor Brabin’s statement relating to West Yorshire Police’s withdrawal from NPAS leadership.

She said: “I know there is already an emerging consensus among Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) for a new delivery model to be established and this is a view that I also share.

“If this is to be achieved, however, the Home Office must also play a key role in helping to jointly secure a sustainable solution for the future of police air support in tandem with any proposed governance changes.

“Although NPAS is a unique national collaboration with a strong brand and has evolved over many years during difficult times in delivering a truly 24/7 borderless service, the conflicting pressures of diminishing resources, new technology and the ever-changing requirements of policing in England & Wales nearly 10 years on have become too great to dismiss.”

She said that efforts to reform the governance of NPAS had been “slow due to a number of reasons” and “I believe now is the right time to take stock of the situation and look towards a different way of operating the service”

Leave a Comment
View Comments 3
In Other News
Digital forensics inspection 'paints a sorry picture' for policing
NPAS begins live streaming with fire and NHS teams
BlueLight Commercial identifies £1.3bn in 'joined up' procurement
More News