NPAS achieves fastest Priority One response times

Posted on 12 December, 2023 by Advance 

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) has achieved its fastest Priority One responses, delivering on average a response time of 10 minutes and 32 seconds.


An NPAS rotary aircraft using NightSun light to illuminate a search area.
Courtesy NPAS

In November 2023, the average time for NPAS aircraft to reach the scene of Priority One (urgent) incidents fell to its lowest, 10 minutes and 32 seconds, whilst the availability of aircraft in the month increased to 78.5%. Planned engineering requirements mean it is not possible to achieve 100% availability.

For Priority Two incidents (non urgent), the average time it took to reach a scene was 20 minutes and 23 seconds.

In November, 2,951 calls for air support were received, compared to 2,933 the previous month.

Year-to-date, NPAS rotary aircraft have flown on behalf of forces for a total of 8,278 hours and its fixed wing aircraft for 387 hours. The fixed wing crews have assisted 33 different police forces across England and Wales.

The proportion of tasks resulting in a positive outcome remains high, at 88.8%. In real terms, this equates to 1,195 missing or vulnerable people located, 3,001 suspects caught and 1,326 vehicles tracked so far this year, either directly, or with the assistance of, national police air support.

There have also been 553 pre-planned tasks carried out by NPAS since the beginning of April 2023.
Some of November's incidents of note were:

An NPAS helicopter lifted to assist following the report of a woman and two children lost on Dartmoor, close to a dangerous area. Immediately on arrival, the three people were spotted by the air crew and using their powerful NightSun light, the crew directed the three in a safe direction whilst directing ground patrols to their location. Only once officers were with the family and they were satisfied they were safe, did the helicopter crew continue to its next task.

An air crew was tasked to search a 300 metre area around the home address of a man, for whom there was concern for his welfare. Once the initial search area was cleared, the NPAS crew continued to search all areas accessible by foot from the home address. They found the man on a bridge. Officers were immediately directed to him and took him to safety.

A cliff slide during stormy weather was threatening people's homes. Strong winds meant that a drone was unable to fly, so an NPAS helicopter crew flew overhead and illuminated the area with the NightSun light, enabling structural engineers to assess the risk.

Whilst arriving at the scene of a missing person report, an NPAS crew sighted a vehicle travelling at high speed, with a strong heat signature. The vehicle was followed by the air crew to an address. Ground patrols were given details of the address and confirmed the vehicle was oustanding as stolen. Two people were arrested inside for theft of a motor vehicle and breach of bail.