Wales politics

MP fights to save Dyfed-Powys police helicopter

Police helicopter Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption The Dyfed-Powys force helicopter will not now be replaced at Pembrey

The scrapping of the Dyfed-Powys police helicopter will result in a poorer service and the decision could be challenged in court, an MP has claimed.

The base in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, will shut in 2016 due to cuts by the National Police Air Service (NPAS).

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards accused NPAS of using "deeply misleading" arguments to justify the cuts.

But Policing Minister Mike Penning said politicians should not tell police how to run their forces.

'Ill-served'

Mr Edwards told MPs on Tuesday that the number of police aircraft bases in England and Wales was being cut by nearly half from 29 to 15 following the creation of NPAS, and the number of helicopters cut by 40%.

From 1 January 2016, Wales will be served by bases at St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, and Hawarden, Flintshire, along with others in England after the closure of bases at Pembrey and Rhuddlan, Denbighshire.

The MP said the decision had been made on "shaky ground" and could be open to judicial review.

He questioned whether it was really possible for fixed-wing aircraft to cover mid and west Wales without constant mid-air refuelling, claiming that would be "ridiculous".

"The residents of Dyfed-Powys have been failed by their police commissioner and ill-served by NPAS," he said.

Mr Edwards also asked that Home Secretary Theresa May order a review of the decision, as she had done for a base in Teesside, north east England.

But Mr Penning told the debate: "It isn't for a police minister or an MP to tell the police their operational duties, how they should run their forces."

He said the decision would be kept under review, but added: "I fully understand the concerns but if we want the police to do the job we are asking them to do we must listen to the police."

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