Public can watch police helicopter pursuits online

The residents served by Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire Constabularies can now view video footage recorded by a helicopter as the forces’ vehicles and officers on foot pursue criminals through residential streets.

Dec 14, 2006
By David Howell
Former PCs Deniz Jaffer (left) and Jamie Lewis.

The residents served by Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire Constabularies can now view video footage recorded by a helicopter as the forces’ vehicles and officers on foot pursue criminals through residential streets.

The initiative is to enable residents to gain a better understanding of how the helicopter can be a key component in the policing of their county.

Inspector Nigel Tinsley-Such, in charge of the Western Counties Air Operations Unit which serves Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire Constabularies, said the website is expected to see hundreds of visits a day.

He said: “There is a huge amount of interest in the police helicopter which serves a population of more than two million. It is a vital resource that has helped to make more than 3,000 arrests and helped to save the lives of more than 200 people since it was launched 11 years ago.

“Mystery often surrounds what the helicopter has been doing in the area, but now there is an opportunity for people to find out more by visiting the site.

“We are keen to build trust and confidence in our communities and this is a clear way of informing members of the public about how we are reducing crime and bringing more offenders to justice.”

The launch of the police helicopter website, which shows high quality footage of police operations, follows the phenomenon of the YouTube website which sees about 2.5 billion videos downloaded everyday.

More and more people are now viewing videos online due to high-speed internet connections such as broadband.

Inspector Tinsley-Such said: “There is now an expectation for websites to use modern technology so we were keen to stay with the times and include videos of the helicopter in action and an up-to-date inventory of its tasks.

“The videos include the actual officer`s commentary and you are able to see how state-of-the art equipment such as thermal imaging is used to close in on the wanted and help to trace the missing.”

Visitors to the new site www.westerncounties.org.uk are able to find out what a typical day involves working for the air operations unit and how the helicopter is used to take people who are seriously injured to hospital. The police helicopter website can also be accessed by visiting www.avonandsomerset. police.uk or www.gloucestershire.police.uk.

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