National Police Air Service (NPAS) scope and capabilities


The National Police Air Service (NPAS) is circulating guidance to emergency services colleagues as a reminder of the level of support they are able to provide in emergency situations

The NPAS provides borderless air support to the police forces across England and Wales 24/7, 365 days a year from a national network of bases.

Whilst they offer extensive support capabilities (see the PDF below) these are not ‘rescue helicopters’ and cannot usually rescue people from fires, rooftops or elsewhere.
They can only offer rescue support in exceptional circumstances and would need sufficient space to land, such as a large field.

Historically, call takers in the emergency services have not been provided with information about the NPAS and its capabilities in their training, something which the NPAS is working to address.

In the past, some callers to the emergency services have also requested that an NPAS helicopter in attendance performs a rescue. Due to the lack of information about the NPAS at the time, call takers would not have been able to respond to these requests or provide a clear response. As a result, callers were not explicitly told that the helicopters could not conduct rescues.

It is important that, in future where NPAS is deployed and cannot conduct rescues, all emergency service call takers are aware of NPAS helicopter capabilities and that callers are explicitly informed of this.


Published 19th December 2020