Cambridgeshire’s police helicopter grounded in bid to save �500,000

CAMBRIDGESHIRE’S police helicopter has been axed as the cash-strapped force seek to save �500,000 from their dwindling budgets.

Cambridgeshire Police Authority approved proposals to ground the �3.9 million chopper at a meeting on Wednesday - opting to join with Chiltern Air Support Unit to cover the region’s skies.

The air support unit - which has helicopters based at RAF Henlow and RAF Benson in Oxford - could answer up to 60 per cent of Cambridgeshire’s air calls.

It will be backed up by existing arrangements with Suffolk and Essex police forces, in a move which will save around �500,000 and provide 500 flying hours at a reduced cost per flight hour.

Chairman of Cambridgeshire Police Authority Ruth Rogers said: “We are committed to supporting the constabulary in providing the most cost-effective air support service for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“We have to be realistic that with shrinking resources we must think collaboratively to save money all round.”

Life-saving charity Magpas, who use the police helicopter, have already declared that they have a “plan in place” to cope with its withdrawal.

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Daryl Brown, Magpas’ chief executive, said: “Magpas would like to reassure the public that we will continue saving lives night and day.”

Mark Hopkins, the force’s assistant chief constable, said: “We are confident that the move will provide a borderless air support service, which can be called upon 24/7 and result in more efficient tasking across the region and greater resilience.”

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