New police eye in the sky

PUBLISHED: 16:04 25 August 2006 | UPDATED: 22:10 28 May 2010

The view in the front seat; the Pilot, Captain David Crishall to the right

The view in the front seat; the Pilot, Captain David Crishall to the right

ABOVE the Fenland skies, the new Cambridgeshire Police helicopter, the £4million MD902 Explorer, is proving itself to be faster, safer and better equipped than its predecessor. TV cameras have been allowed on board for the first time as part of the Angli

Night time in the rear of the helicopter with its high-tech camera surveillance equipment

ABOVE the Fenland skies, the new Cambridgeshire Police helicopter, the £4million MD902 Explorer, is proving itself to be faster, safer and better equipped than its predecessor.

TV cameras have been allowed on board for the first time as part of the Anglia TV 999 Front Line series and they show the diversity of tasks which the helicopter can deal with on a daily basis.

From hunting for stolen vehicles, using thermal imaging cameras to track suspects, and looking for missing people, the helicopter is now part of everyday policing, not only in the Fens but throughout Cambridgeshire.

Recently it was used extensively in the hunt for a missing March man and as support for an early-morning drugs rain in Wisbech a little over three weeks ago.

Pilot, Captain David Crishall

With features on board including a 30million candle-power searchlight, a public address system and digital video recorders, the aircraft can expect to be kept extremely busy.

Assistant Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire, Mark Hopkins, believes that despite the vast cost of the helicopter it will be a vital crime fighting tool.

"It unequivocally is worth the money, it is worth the investment from the benefits we get from this machine - they far outweigh the costs."

"Also a substantial amount of the costs are funded by central government so a big chunk is not costing the people of Cambridgeshire but is actually managed by the government."

"But as an asset it gives us huge benefits - the capacity to engage with criminals and the fear it engenders in certain criminals. People can't run away from a helicopter," explained Mr Hopkins.

The hi-tech aspects of the machine are becoming legendary, as the Anglia cameramen discovered.

"It is a bit like the Starship Enterprise in here" said Simon Amos, one of the helicopter's observers.

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