How we assist police forces

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) delivers a fully borderless air service to all police forces across England and Wales 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and a national response to major and critical incidents.

Flying at average speeds of 138mph, police air support saves officers on the ground valuable time when it matters. On a daily basis, NPAS tackles criminality, helps save lives and keeps people and communities safe.

NPAS carries out a variety of tasks for police forces, such as searching for high risk missing people, injured people and for people where there is a serious concern for their safety and wellbeing. Common tasks also include searching for suspects, managing vehicle pursuits from the air and assisting with counter terrorism and specialist firearms operations. In time-critical searches, such as that of a high risk missing adult or child, the time saved in locating people can literally mean the difference between life and death.

The National Police Air Service (NPAS) Operations Centre operates 24 hours a day, year-round, and manages requests for air support from all police forces and other agencies across England and Wales. Find out more about how air support is deployed

The NPAS fleet consists of 19 EC135 and EC145 helicopters, plus four fixed-wing aircraft.


The benefits of police air support

  • The ability to search large areas quickly (twenty times faster than other options and requiring fewer ground resources) can mean the difference between life and death
  • The crew can provide an aerial overview of a situation, which minimises risk to members of the public and police officers
  • The mission equipment on board all the aircraft provides a real-time downlink into control rooms
  • NPAS has the ability to surge resources in times of greatest need
  • There is the ability to move aircraft and crews to meet demand across England and Wales
  • NPAS provides enhanced safety of the public and officers
  • There is the production of specialist quality evidence
  • The aircraft provide a visible and powerful deterrent, ensuring communities are safe and people feel safer