North Weald Airfield explains why increase in police helicopter activity over skies of Harlow

From the North Weald Airfield Facebook page

LOCAL residents may have noticed an increase in police helicopter activity over the past few weeks around North Weald surrounding areas.
The reason is down to training.

Sergeant Steve Rowlett, Base Manager explains “We appreciate that there have been a lot of training flights taking place recently and I can assure you that amount of activity in and out of North Weald has been above what we would normally expect to experience through our normal police operations. This increase is due to the fact that we have recently recruited a number of highly experienced and qualified pilots who all need to be trained in the specifics of the type of helicopters we fly and this involves both day and night mandatory elements.

The usual expectation is for our existing pilots to only undertake mandatory training that assess their proficiency and allows for practice of safety drills to comply with legal requirements every 6 months. We appreciate that whilst doing this training we may have caused noise and inconvenience especially at this time of year when doors and windows are open, people are out in their gardens more and also as it gets dark much later in the day having the need to extend the training into the later hours causes us to be more noticeable, I can assure you though that the training is essential in allowing us to continue to provide air support to our officers on the ground in order to reduce risk and harm to the public. Whether that be in looking for a reported missing person, tracking a stolen vehicle searching for a suspected burglar or responding to a terrorist incident.

Where possible we have made efforts to displace the training to other airfields that are available to us, however with only a limited number of sites being suitable and even less currently open and operational we have had to operate locally but as I have already mentioned this current level of training is an exception to our normal practices and will not last for ever, we anticipate that by the beginning of September the number of training flights in the immediate area during the night will be less frequent, and the vast majority of flights will be for essential operational needs only.

We are extremely grateful for the support of the residents of Epping Forest district and once social distancing measures allow we will look to accommodate a visit of the police facility at North Weald to various groups across the community which will hopefully allow us to offer a better understanding of our operations. Thank you.”

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