Merseyside Police unsuccessfully disputed £311,134.22 of charges by West Yorkshire Police for air support through NPAS (National Police Air Service)
Back in August 2012 I reported how the councillors on the Merseyside Police Authority agreed to Merseyside Police’s helicopter (Eurocopter EC-135 registration G-XM11) previously based at RAF Woodvale was leased for use by the Oslo Police Department (Norway) and it has since been repainted and is used in Norway.
The replacement for the disbanded Air Support Unit was an agreement with the National Police Air Service (NPAS) who provide air support to Merseyside from NPAS Hawarden (a Eurocopter EC-135 from Saltney Ferry, North Wales) and NPAS Barton (a Eurocopter EC-135 from Eccles, Greater Manchester).
Merseyside Police are invoiced quarterly for their share of the cost of air support through West Yorkshire Police (although the invoices are headed Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner West Yorkshire).
However Merseyside Police disputed the amounts that West Yorkshire Police were charging them for air support in financial year 2017-18. West Yorkshire Police were invoicing Merseyside Police £533,094.74 a quarter (total £2,132,378.96 a year) but Merseyside Police was only paying £455,344.74 (Q1), £455,344.74 (Q2), £455,300.00 (Q3) and £455,255.26 (Q4) (total £1,821,244.74 a year).
The difference was £311,134.22.
Following the dispute resolution process Merseyside Police’ s appeal over the disputed amount was presumably not upheld and it paid the full amount outstanding for the 2017-18 quarters (£77,839.48 + £77,794.74 + £77,750 + £77,750 which makes a total of £311,134.22) on the 8th May 2018.
However West Yorkshire Police sent Merseyside Police an invoice for Quarter 4 (2017-18) for £533,094.74 dated 20th March 2018.
Merseyside Police underpaid this invoice paying only £455,300.00 (presumably due to the ongoing dispute) on 5th April 2018.
Once it got to the quarters for 2018-19 Merseyside Police paid a reduced amount of £417,691.00 a quarter and the amount invoiced and paid appears to be the same.
However although some of the costs can obviously be partly offset by the lease of the Merseyside Police helicopter to the Norwegian government, as both NPAS bases are based outside Merseyside, this arrangement would mean that if the helicopters are in their hangars rather than in the air over Merseyside mean it would take longer for a helicopter from either base to reach Merseyside than from RAF Woodvale and consume more fuel on leading to shorter times that the air support could be used before returning to base.
Obviously there are presumed economies of scale in some areas of NPAS providing the air support service, but it just seems odd that Merseyside Police can’t use the helicopter it owns (as its is in Norway) but instead has to pay NPAS for the use of NPAS helicopters!
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