National Police Air Service

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) is a police aviation service that provides centralised air support to the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales. It replaced the previous structure whereby police forces operated their own helicopters, either individually or in small consortia (such as the South East Air Support Unit).[1] The project was coordinated by Alex Marshall (the then Chief Constable of Hampshire Police).[2] West Yorkshire Police is the lead force[2] and the service is operated from West Yorkshire Police Despatch & Flight Monitoring Centre (D&FMC) based at Wakefield, West Yorkshire.[3]

National Police Air Service
National Police Air Service logo.svg
Legal personalityPolice unit
Jurisdictional structure
National agencyEngland and Wales
Operations jurisdictionEngland and Wales
Map of English and Welsh Police areas in the United Kingdom.svg
National Police Air Service's jurisdiction in the United Kingdom
General nature
HeadquartersWest Yorkshire Police Operations Centre, Wakefield, England.


There has been much criticism from serving police officers around the service provided by NPAS since it began operation. This has led to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services inspecting NPAS with its conclusions made public on 30 November 2017. The report was scathing of the service provided and stated the following in its press release:[4]

With the number of bases being halved and the number of aircraft being cut by a third in the last 10 years, savings have primarily been made by cutting the service provided to forces rather than increasing efficiency. An inconsistent service means that many incidents requiring air support are over before a police helicopter can arrive. Moreover, we are concerned that the police service now operates insufficient aircraft to provide a consistently prompt response to incidents in all forces in England and Wales.



NPAS became operational on 1 October 2012,[5] and was rolled out across England and Wales in stages.[2] The service provides twenty helicopters, operating from fourteen bases.[6]

The National Police Air Service has suggested that the Police Scotland Air Support Unit join the service to reduce costs.[7]

Base closuresEdit

In February 2015 it was announced that, due to a 14% cut in revenue over the following three years, NPAS would be closing ten bases over two years. As fixed wing aircraft are cheaper to fly, a new aeroplane base would be created.

This new fixed wing base is currently planned for Doncaster Airport but as of September 2019 this has not happened.[citation needed]


Map of NPAS BasesEdit

Blue •: Operational base
Grey x: New base (non-operational)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "New plans for a national police air service". Association of Chief Police Officers. 26 October 2010. Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Press Release: National Police Air Service is launched". Association of Chief Police Officers. 1 October 2012.
  3. ^ "NPAS Annual Report 2014 - 2015" (PDF). NPAS. 27 January 2016.
  4. ^ "National Police Air Service needs urgent reform". HMICFRS. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  5. ^ "New police air service takes off". BBC News Online. 1 October 2012.
  6. ^ "NPAS Aircraft FAQs | NPAS". Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  7. ^ PROTECT - CONTRACTS, Scottish Police Authority.
  8. ^ a b c Drwiega Air International October 2015, p. 126.
  9. ^ UKEmergencyAviation [@ukemav] (11 June 2019). "Redacted contract: … - St Athan 'may relocate to NPAS Cardiff' - NPAS intends to operate 1x 135T2+ 'for training purposes only'; however in a clarification, the training a/c LN-OCB 'will no longer be part of the NPAS fleet for the purposes of this contract' …" (Tweet). Retrieved 12 June 2019 – via Twitter.

External linksEdit