Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 11:32 UK

Police helicopter given RAF guard

Police helicopter (generic)
The Surrey Police helicopter was put out of action twice by vandalism

A police helicopter put out of action twice by vandals has been moved from a civilian airport to an RAF base where it can be guarded around the clock.

The Surrey Police helicopter was vandalised at Fairoaks Airport, Chobham on 30 October and 30 April.

The force said the attacks on the aicraft could be linked to two jewellery robberies in the county which happened on 31 October and 1 May.

Following a review of security, it has been moved to RAF Odiham in Hampshire.

It was moved as a temporary measure at the end of June but a decision to make RAF Odiham the helicopter's permanent base is expected to be made in the next few weeks.

In both cases of vandalism the police helicopter was so badly damaged it was unable to assist at the scene of the robberies at Boshers in Chobham and Amore jewellers in Cranleigh.

We have been given priority tasking over routine military manoeuvres when needed
Supt Alan Sharp

Surrey Police said the military base, which is home to 2,000 military personnel, provided a much-enhanced and cost effective level of security.

The round-the-clock guard means the helicopter is on 24-hour standby for deployment, without needing to be moved from a hangar.

Supt Alan Sharp said the time saved on the ground helped to offset slightly longer flight times to some parts of Surrey.

"Fairoaks Airport has served us well during the last five years, but the new base will provide us with a much more appropriate environment for the aircraft," he said.

"There is also less air traffic on a daily basis and we have been given priority tasking over routine military manoeuvres when needed.

"We are very grateful to all the staff at RAF Odiham who have made our unit more than welcome."



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SEE ALSO
Robberies linked to copter damage
05 Jun 09 |  Surrey
Vandals attack police helicopter
14 May 09 |  Surrey

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