So, now it’s official. The BBC reports that Surrey Police have decided to base Surrey’s police helicopter in Hampshire, at RAF Odiham. Previously the helicopter was based at Fairoaks Airport.
This decision makes little sense to me. Basing the Surrey Police helicopter in Hampshire just doesn’t sound right. It also, rather obviously, lengthens response times, if not also handing a small victory to the criminals [see the BBC report].
The police claim that the helicopter response times won’t be affected. The reason they give is the saving in time by not having to take it out of its hanger, which it had at Fairoaks. Hmmmm.
Here’s a map showing the effect of moving the helicopter. It uses publicly available information on helicopter deployments for the period from July 1st to July 14th inclusive. The black line that runs from near the top left-hand corner of the map is equidistant from RAF Odiham and Fairoaks. Therefore any deployments to the left of the line will take less transit time for a helicopter based at RAF Odiham, while any to the right of the line will take less time for a helicopter based at Fairoaks.
I’ve written detailed emails on this topic. I’m keen to see the support costs for the helicopter spent in Surrey, after all it’s Surrey’s taxpayers who are paying for it. It’s also odd that no secure location could be found in Surrey. Finally, you’d have thought that the Police would be capable of protecting their own valuable equipment. It seems not.