Helicoptor’s halcyon year

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four suspected robbers were tracked and arrested in Somercotes thanks to the Derbyshire police helicoptor, based in Ripley.

This was only one incident in the 240 county-wide searches conducted over the last 11 months.

On October 3, the alarm was raised at business premises in Somercotes and the offenders ran off. The helicopter was scrambled and used to talk in officers on the ground - who managed to arrest three people hiding on the railway line. A fourth man was found nearby by the helicopter and the four were later charged with robbery.

During the same period, the crews searched for 153 missing people, found 32 stolen or suspect vehicles and airlifted six casualties to hospital.

The North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit is jointly owned by Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Police.

Based at Derbyshire Constabulary headquarters in Ripley, it helps officers on the ground to search for suspects, locate missing people and track stolen vehicles.

John Jameson, North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit Executive Officer, said: “If it were not for the presence of the helicopter, many suspects would have evaded capture. The aircraft has also transported more people to hospital in 2010 than in previous years. If the helicopter is close to the scene of a collision, or where someone has fallen ill, its use can save valuable time when transporting a casualty to hospital.”

The North Midlands Helicopter Support Unit is currently preparing to become part of a national service by April 2012, but a shadow service is being planned for the Central Region, which includes the four police helicopters in the Midlands, during 2011.

In C Division alone, which covers Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, Amber Valley and Bolsover, the helicoptor flew 148 hours last year and attended 473 tasks.

Between January 1 and December 1 2010, 149 suspects were located, 75 missing and 14 vulnerable people were found, 18 stolen vehicles were recovered and three casualties were airlifted to hospital.