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WALSE: Force to get more airborne support.

A PIONEERING 'eye in the sky' helicopter is to be shared between North Wales and Cheshire police.

The new machine will replace an aeroplane currently used by Cheshire police and provide air support for North Wales's existing helicopter.

Discussions are in place to launch the new joint support unit when the aeroplane is due for replacement in 2010.

It means North Wales Police will have round-the-clock support during operations and Cheshire will benefit from the latest specialist equipment.

Based in Hawarden airfield, officials say the helicopter will provide more rescue cover and will make savings on maintenence and fuel costs.

North Wales Police already have a helicopter The new one will enable a 24-hours a day, seven days a week operation.

Police say helicopters are more effective at searching for offenders, following stolen vehicles and general surveillance.

Lead member for Cheshire police authority Gretta Cousins said: "Advances in technology such as thermal imaging cameras has increased the efficiency of airborne searches and has resulted in even greater cost effectiveness, especially at night when searching more difficult terrain.

She added: "The authority is aware that in many cases, a helicopter may be better than an aeroplane.

"We've been working towards forming a joint air support unit with North Wales Police which will allow 24-hour, seven days per week air support cover and savings in terms of maintenence and fuel purchases."

North Wales Police said: "Having both helicopters will provide both force areas with effective 24-hour air cover.

"We already collaborate on air operations and the new Cheshire helicpoter will simply enhance our current position."
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2008
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