Local MP Jack Lopresti has put down a Parliamentary Question to Rt Hon Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary, on the relocation of the police helicopter at Filton Airfield to an RAF base almost 20 miles away.
At present the Western Counties Air operations Unit covers the counties of Avon & Somerset and Gloucestershire. It is based less than 3 minutes flying time from Bristol so that in can react to any serious crime in the city and the surrounding area. Until the creation of the unit the area suffered high levels of vehicle crime, vehicle pursuits and on street crime such as ram raiding. The presence of the helicopter within a few minutes has markedly reduced that effect.
Jack said “The proposal to close the unit at Filton and move it to RAF Colerne in Wiltshire will have a very serious effect on the aircrafts ability to reach incidents in the local area in an acceptable timescale; therefore I have asked the Secretary of State to assess the implications and to think again. The flying time alone from RAF Colerne is approaching 20 minutes leaving nothing at all to allow for communication difficulties and start up times. I would submit that the proposals will make the aircrafts ability to provide any meaningful service to Bristol almost impossible and could lead to an increase in crime in the Avon, Somerset and Gloucester areas.”
The wording of the Parliamentary Question is:
“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the likely effects of the relocation of the Police response helicopter based at Filton Airfield to RAF Colerne on the ability of the proposed National Police Air Service to reduce crime.”