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West Yorkshire to host NPAS for another two years

Mayor extends deadline for new host force after “challenges in achieving new solution”

West Yorkshire Police’s hosting of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) will continue for two years longer than planned because the governance bodies that run the police service’s ‘national airline’ and the Home Office have been unable to find another force to host it.

Last year West Yorkshire’s mayor Tracy Babin gave the statutory 12 months notice period for hosting the aircraft and airbases on behalf of the other 42 forces which would have meant new arrangements would be in place by June 15.

Following conversations with the NPAS National Strategic Board (NSB) and in consultation with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) the Home Office, she has agreed to extend the deadline

The extension, to 1 June 2024, will “give the Strategic Board of NPAS, made up of Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables from member forces, time to properly explore alternative hosting arrangements and transition the service to a new host” according to West Yorkshire.

Hosting NPAS on behalf of all the forces in England and Wales had become an administrative and management burden as under the governance arrangements put in place when the service was created West Yorkshire’s PCC was effectivley the ‘legal owner’ responsible for all the aircraft and airbases operated on behalf of other forces.

Some forces have been unhappy with how the service is structured with the Met demanding a re-opening of its own helicopter airfield at Lippitts Hill.

Announcing the extension today Mayor Brabin said: “I recognise the efforts that have been made by the NPAS Strategic Board and Gold Group to seek an alternative lead and host force for NPAS and acknowledge the challenges that have arisen in achieving a solution by the notice expiry date.

“I am reassured that work is underway to consider alternative hosting options and recognise that adequate time must be afforded to this work to allow the Board to take an informed decision and ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.

“That work continues and that is why I believe the extension is necessary.

“I have therefore agreed to extend the deadline that was set out in my withdrawal notice to 1st June 2024, to allow the board adequate time to explore potential alternative hosting arrangements and transition the service.”

“This is on the understanding that the Board will have taken a decision and informed me of the new hosting arrangement by 1st June 2023, with a full transfer of responsibilities from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to the new hosting arrangements by 1st June 2024.”

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