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West Yorkshire Police helicopter's vital crime-fighting role
9:10am Sunday 29th April 2012 in Bradford
The West Yorkshire Police helicopter helped to locate 150 wanted people and vehicles worth more than a quarter of a million pounds in the Bradford district last year.
Latest figures released by the Force show the helicopter, call sign X-Ray 99, clocked up more than 1,200 flying hours in the aerial hunt for wanted criminals, missing people and general evidence- gathering.
Throughout West Yorkshire, between April 1, 2011, and March 31 this year, the helicopter flew a total of 1,233 hours, carried out 3,866 tasks, helped to locate 788 wanted people, as well as 46 missing people, and 97 vehicles.
In the Bradford South and Airedale and North Bradford Divisions, the aircraft attended 678 incidents and flew for a total of 228 hours, during which 150 wanted people were located, along with 29 vehicles valued at £237,520.
John Whittaker, executive officer for the Force helicopter, said: “The helicopter has helped out in many and varied important cases across Bradford.
“It helped to locate a Ravenscliffe woman who had fallen down a cliff and was injured and required immediate assistance. And when a Bradford woman called a friend to say she was suicidal, it was the crew of X-Ray 99 that helped find her and bring her to safety. These are just two jobs where the helicopter has proven invaluable in an emergency situation.”
Mr Whittaker said X-Ray 99 provided an important service to the people of West Yorkshire and was one of the busiest helicopters in the country.
He added: “It supports officers on the ground, providing invaluable help in searching for missing people in particular and suspects who have left a crime scene. The helicopter is also vital in helping to contain a particular area and monitoring crowds and identifying where officers are most needed on the ground. It can also spot cannabis factories from the air.”
The helicopter has been in use since February 2001 and has a number of features designed to help the unit fight crime and assist officers on the ground, including an advanced satellite navigation and communications system and a state of the art HD thermal camera.