Published and promoted by S. Bartle on behalf of Brent Green Party and Shaka Lish and Michaela Lichten c/o 23 Saltcroft Close, Wembley, HA9 9JJ and promoted by Aidan Cottrell-Boyce on behalf of John Mansook c/o National Green Party office, The Biscuit Factory, Unit 201 A Block, 100 Clements Road, London, SE16 4DG.
8 Oct 2011
Brent Helicopter in Pursuit of Man Jumping Over Fence at 0027hrs
"From a psycho-acoustic (human perception) viewpoint, Helicopter noise is not generally perceived as a 'pleasant' noise, and has been rated as 10-15 decibels more annoying than other aircraft noise, for the same reading on a noise meter." (From Helicopter noise coalition)
Helicopter noise is a problem I have been highlighting for some years (Harrow Times letter: 'Time to chop these flights', 28 March 2008). A local questionnaire of residents conducted by Brent Greens picked up concerns parents had with children being woken up at night, to add to the anecdotal evidence. A resident recently pulled me up at a public meeting, "What's happening about all this helicopter noise? It seems to be getting worse."
A timely report in 2006 by the London Assembly environment committee, chaired by Green Assembly Member Darren Johnson, flagged up the growing problem of helicopter noise (London in a spin - a review of helicopter noise). Unfortunately, there seems to be less scrutiny over emergency services' use of helicopters, yet these are invariably able to operate at more anti-social hours and with fewer caps (commercial flights cannot take place after 11pm for example).
I would not doubt the good use to which police helicopters may be put from time to time, but I do think that there must be far greater accountability for their use, and far greater consideration of when to deploy them - on grounds of effectiveness, cost compared to police on the ground and environmental impact. We must begin with a proper public log of the incidents to which they have been called. My fear is that the public would not be impressed - and that the police have cause for embarrassment.
Real time information is very difficult to come by. I have persevered on the switchboards more than once, including last night and am now in a position to share the reason given for last night's police copter scrambling. Reason given:
"Male seen jumping over fence 00.27hrs".
And the reason to abort the search from the skies after half an hour? Quote:
"Helicopter left for refuelling."
This does not strike me as a sufficient reason in the first place to scramble a helicopter with infrared technology. Nor was the man seen jumping over fence found (maybe he heard the copter coming?). What guidance do the police have to follow? This from a police sergeant reporting on an incident in Cheshire earlier this year sounds reasonable:
“Criteria used for evaluating tasks include the risk or threat to life, the length of time since the incident has occurred, if there is a suitable description of the suspects and containment of the scene and if the deployment of the helicopter is proportional to the request." (Sgt Janet Griffiths, £1/2m cost of police helicopter, Warrington Guardian, 22 April 2011)
I question whether helicopter in pursuit of man jumping over fence was a proportionate use of police resources. Instead it would have reliably woken up many residents (perhaps disturbing as many as 10,000 people) at the end of a hard working week for many.
This kind of LA-style police-action-camera-copter-chase nonsense has to stop.