Latest performance update

Monday 27 November 2023

Eighty-nine percent of all police helicopter and aeroplane deployments last month (October 2023) resulted in a positive outcome.

In real terms, NPAS crews have found, or assisted in finding, 1,062 missing and vulnerable people between April and October this year – that is an average of more than150 people each month.

In the same period, 2,736 criminal suspects and 1,181 suspicious vehicles were located.

The average availability of aircraft for the year so far stands at over 70%.

It is important to note that annual maintenance and engineering requirements, plus dangerous flying conditions caused by adverse weather, mean that it is not possible to provide 100% availability.

The average response time to reach an emergency incident, known as Priority One deployments, is just 11 minutes and 59 seconds.

For Priority Two incidents, which are not time-critical, we arrived at the scene, on average, within 20 minutes and 39 seconds of being deployed.


Some of October's incidents of note

  • A crew was tasked to search for a stolen vehicle on cloned plates. Four men were thought to be on board. The crew quickly identified the vehicle and followed it, giving commentary to ground patrols. The men were seen to abandon the vehicle and run into an address. The helicopter crew kept a containment on the address until firearms officers could establish a cordon. One man was seen to leave and get into another vehicle. Officers entered address safely and arrested three men. Two vulnerable victims were identified and officers were directed, by the NPAS, crew to property which had been discarded on route.


  • A high-risk missing 14-year-old boy, believed to be armed with a knife and at risk of harming himself, was spotted, by direct sight rather than camera, by an NPAS crew member. The boy was several hundred metres outside the original police search area. As the boy made off into a wooded area, ground officers were directed to him and took him to safety.


  • Whilst attending a missing person search, an NPAS crew spotted a major fire on a motorway bridge. They alerted the local police force, which was aware and on their way to the scene. The air crew took command of directing road closures and directed emergency services to assist with traffic management, as explosions were causing serious risk of injury to motorists. A downlink from the aircraft was provided to the force command centre. The aircraft returned to base once all emergency services were on scene and road closures were in place.


  • NPAS was requested to help search for a high-risk suicidal missing person. On starting their search, the crew was subject to repeated green laser strikes, endangering the crew and the public. The source was identified and officers were directed to a group of children. Five laser pens were taken from them. On continuing the search, the crew located the missing man lying in a wooded area near a motorway, on hard-to-reach terrain. Emergency services were directed to him. He required urgent medical attention. Nearby, the crew sighted three men in woods who made off after ditching a spade. Officers were guided to their location, using the powerful Nitesun light fitted to the helicopter. Drugs paraphernalia was recovered and the men arrested.