Crime tsar blasts lack of consultation over axing of police helicopter base

Police and Crime Commissioner North Wales Winston Roddick.

A crime tsar is investigating whether he can challenge the decision to axe a police helicopter base in North Wales.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC is unhappy about the lack of proper consultation over the planned closure of the base at Rhuddlan in Denbighshire on September 15.

The police helicopter base at Hawarden in Flintshire will remain open.

The announcement was made last month by National Police Air Service (NPAS), which runs the UK’s police helicopter services.

It was part of a package of cuts which will see eight of the service’s 23 bases closing.

According to NPAS, it was facing budget cuts of 14 per cent in the next three years on top of the 23 per cent savings they had already made.

Mr Roddick said: “I am concerned that the decision by NPAS to shut the base in Rhuddlan does not concentrate enough on north Wales’s needs.

“Likewise, I am concerned that consultation prior to the decision being made was clearly lacking.

“NPAS has not taken the time to properly explain the rationale of the new operating model to us and I am therefore exploring whether there is an option to appeal the decision.

“The closures were presented as a fait accompli.  A series of working group meetings is being planned by NPAS to consider the reorganisation but this is too little, too late.

“In the meantime, I am in discussions with the Chief Constable to fully assess the implications of what is being proposed.

“The airbase in Rhuddlan represents the culmination of a great deal of hard work on the part of officers from this force and the location is central to north Wales.

“It is vital that the integrity of the air cover for North Wales is maintained and that the region continues to benefit from a first class service.”