Airborne drama as police ‘copter guides from above

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THE vital role played by the area’s police helicopter has been marked.

The North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit, which covers Derbyshire, has played a part in dozens of rescues this year, including a dramatic one involving a missing child on July 14. The crew were requested to search an area of farmland near to Ambergate for a child who had run off from school.

Police closed the road as it was feared she would run in front of a vehicle and the child was found by officers and brought to safety, with the helicopter’s help from the air.

Last year the crew helped to find 214 crime suspects in Derbyshire between January 1 and December 1.

In C Division, which covers Chesterfield and Amber Valley, it flew 121 operational hours and attended 444 tasks, leading to 45 direct arrests and 21 assisted arrests.

It also helped locate 12 vulnerable and missing people and 14 missing vehicles.

The North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit is jointly owned by Derbyshire Constabulary and Nottinghamshire Police and is based at police headquarters in Ripley.

John Jameson, North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit Executive Officer, said: “The helicopter brings a dimension to policing which can’t be achieved by conventional means. Thanks to the crews, many suspects were caught who may have evaded capture if the helicopter had not attended an incident. In April, we will see the creation of a national police air service. The police helicopter will continue to operate from Ripley and a relief helicopter will be available when the regular aircraft is off-line.

“With economies of scale that such a service will bring and with the nearest helicopter attending any incident, Derbyshire should see an even more effective service at a reduced cost.”

Throughout the year, the helicopter has been involved in some dramatic scenes. On May 14, police received a report that people had broken into the former American Adventure theme park in Pit Lane near Ilkeston. The helicopter found the suspects inside and guided officers on the ground to them. The men, aged 19, 20 and 32, were arrested and later dealt with by way of Restorative Justice.

On May 26, the helicopter searched the area around Black Rocks at Cromford for a vulnerable missing man who police believed had taken an overdose. The crew quickly found the man near to the edge of the cliff face and directed police officers to him as he ran into woods. The man was detained and taken for medical treatment.

On August 11, a man in Newbold was robbed by two youths. The helicopter crew searched playing fields where the suspects were seen to run, and soon found them. Officers were directed to them by the airbourne crew. The crew were able to monitor both suspects as they split up, guiding officers to them.

On August 5, a railway line into Glossop had to be closed following reports of a man running on the track.

Officers on foot at the scene could not find the man and the helicopter was asked to attend.

The crew found the man hiding in dense undergrowth by the side of the line and directed officers to him, where he was arrested.