From the front line: The lived-reality of police helicopter operations

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This chapter, based on interviews with National Police Air Service (NPAS) pilots and tactical flight officers, reveals the lived reality of police helicopter operations in England and Wales, from witnessing acts of extreme violence (such as a beheading in north London) to searching for the remains of bodies atomised by locomotive impacts. Highly professional in their outlook and behaviour, the men and women of the NPAS push themselves and their equipment to the limit in their quest to safeguard the public and apprehend criminals. Interviewees claimed a link between teamwork-training and performance. Teamwork-training – known in aviation as crew resource management – was universally praised. It is recommended that the police service urgently considers the introduction of teamwork training for all officers. The police service is starved of resources. The NPAS needs better equipment – longer-ranged, more capable helicopters with state-of-the-art sensors and communications equipment and protection from small-arms fire. The State’s primary mission is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. As a matter of urgency, the government should divert monies from health-care and education to the police service. Integrity and courage should be recognised and rewarded.




Bennett, S. (2020). From the front line: The lived-reality of police helicopter operations. In Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications (pp. 215–235). Springer.

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