Pay-out for Suffolk Constabulary after being billed double for use of police helicopter

The Suffolk Police Helicopter. Photo by Kris Page

The Suffolk Police Helicopter. Photo by Kris Page - Credit:

Suffolk Constabulary has received a pay-out after being billed double the amount it should have been for use of the police helicopter.

Suffolk Police & Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and Chief Constable Gareth Wilson visiting NPAS at

Suffolk Police & Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and Chief Constable Gareth Wilson visiting NPAS at Wattisham last year. Picture: Courtesy of the office of the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner - Credit: Archant

Tim Passmore, Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner, revealed that a long, drawn out negotiation over payment to the National Police Air Service (NPAS) has resulted in a significantly better settlement for the county.

Last year, Suffolk had to pay more than £800,000 for use of the police helicopter across the county, despite the fact that the force had only used half of the hours billed, which resulted in the constabulary paying for £400,000 of unused flying time.

Since being elected, Mr Passmore has called for a review of the funding process and wanted to renegotiate a better deal more in keeping with the hours Suffolk uses the helicopter.

The negotiation process has proved successful and now resulted in a reduced bill of £403,352 for air support in 2017/18, slashing the bill by almost half.

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Speaking after last Friday's accountability and performance panel meeting, Mr Passmore said: 'I am very pleased to see that the National Police Air Service has revised the charges, resulting in a more equitable and transparent funding system which gives a fair and reasonable deal for the Suffolk taxpayer and the constabulary.

'I feel strongly that people in rural areas pay their taxes like everyone else and we should receive a fair share of funding for policing.

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'The police helicopter is a very useful resource for the constabulary, but I felt we were being penalised and paying an unfair proportion of the overall national cost of the helicopter.

'I am pleased that we have been able to secure this better settlement as it will boost the constabulary budget this year by nearly £400,000 which is desperately needed to ensure we continue to keep Suffolk safe.'

For 2015/16, Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies paid a combined total of £1,160,000.

Suffolk bore the lion's share of expenditure, contributing £800,000 to NPAS.

And, despite being the smaller force, Suffolk Constabulary was budgeted for 600 hours of air support, compared to Norfolk's 220 hours.

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