Crime rise fears if police helicopter lost
Community crime-fighters have warned the loss of the police helicopter will increase the risk of lawlessness on the Fylde coast.
A body representing more than 150 neighbourhood watch teams in Blackpool and Fylde has added its voice to calls for air cover in Lancashire to be retained.
Lancashire Police is set to lose its helicopter when the base at Warton closes in May 2017 with cover provided from bases in Cheshire and Greater Manchester instead.
Richard Baguley, chairman of Blackpool and Fylde Neighbourhood Watch Executive Committee, has written to Chief Superintendent Tyron Joyce, chief operating manager of the National Police Air Service (NPAS) urging a re-think.
He said: “It’s a vital service for the people of Lancashire.
“The police helicopter plays a critical role in fighting crime and undertaking fast-response searches.
“When vulnerable people go missing or holiday-makers end up at risk in the sea, the helicopter is invaluable in helping to save lives.
“Whether it’s tracking a stolen car, spotting a criminal trying to escape arrest in an urban or rural area, or spying out the tell-tale heat signals from the roofs of cannabis farms, which are a hidden blight among communities, this important eye-in-the-sky is a crucial part of the police’s armoury.
“It would be a retrograde step for community safety and fear of crime to lose such a valuable and important service for the Fylde coast and the whole county. Without this, we will inevitably play second fiddle to major cities and suffer as a result.”
In his letter Mr Baguley also suggests businesses could help fund the helicopter in order to save it.
Dave Blacker, who heads a Neighbourhood Watch team in Blackpool, added: “There are problems with budgets and decision making is hard.
“However the police helicopter service has saved many lives as well as catching some very dangerous criminals.”
Police bosses say the area will still be covered, from helicopter bases in Cheshire and Greater Manchester