Police helicopter on the agenda again

SUFFOLK police authority bosses will this week hear why the force helicopter is being used for extra flights to reassure the public.The £2.5m 'eye in the sky' run by Suffolk's Air Operations Unit - which has been criticised in the past as a luxury resource funded by taxpayers to the tune of £500,000 a year, and a noisy nuisance - has been flying these trips at extra cost.

SUFFOLK police authority bosses will this week hear why the force helicopter is being used for extra flights to reassure the public.

The £2.5m 'eye in the sky' run by Suffolk's Air Operations Unit - which has been criticised in the past as a luxury resource funded by taxpayers to the tune of £500,000 a year, and a noisy nuisance - has been flying these trips at extra cost.

After attending incidents, flight crews head for areas of Suffolk which they feel need reassurance, and fly 'proactive' and 'vital' overhead sorties.

The subject is one of the main topics which is due to be discussed at this Friday's police authority meeting.


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Suffolk police would not comment ahead of the meeting but it has been said in the past that the proactive flights tend to be in response to concerns from members of the public.

As the helicopter returns to base it will often be diverted as reassurance to residents who have complained about such things as gatherings of youths, who although not committing any crime, have made householders feel uneasy.

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However members of Suffolk Police Authority were so concerned about the reassurance flights that they looked into the issue.

But a report from chief constable Alastair McWhirter, is said to have allayed their worries about noise and cost, although the matter is to be discussed again.

At September's police authority meeting, it was said: "There was some concern over the costs involved but members were assured that this work was undertaken as an addition to an existing task, and the helicopter was directed to particular areas where reassurance was seen to be vital to the community.

"The problems associated with noise were recognised, but members were reassured that the resources devoted to air support were value for money.

"The chief constable also added that air support had been the subject of best value (efficiency) reviews in a number of constabularies, and the value for money aspect had been confirmed."

The matter is on Friday's agenda, and expected to be discussed at the meeting, at police headquarters in Martlesham.

NDo you think taxpayers money should be spent on 'reassurance flights'?

Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or email EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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