Police slammed after helicopter used to hunt meat thief in Potters Bar

POLICE have come under fire for wasting public money after they deployed a helicopter to hunt down a suspected meat thief in Potters Bar.

As first reported in this week’s Potters Bar Edition, the chopper was scrambled at around 6.30pm on Thursday to help officers track down the suspect, who was said to have stolen a “large quantity” of meat from Tesco in Mutton Lane.

Despite a man being arrested, the expensive decision to use the chopper has been slammed.

Writing on the social networking site Twitter, Hannah Jones said: “Theres [sic] a helicopter chase?

“Potters Bar need to sort their priorities out!”

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John Griffin, who lives in The Avenue, said: “It’s a massive waste of resources.

“We need to look very closely at how public money is being spent.”

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The TaxPayers’ Alliance, which campaigns for a low tax society, greeted the news with incredulity.

Grassroots manager Fiona McEvoy said: “This is an astonishing example of heavy-handed policing.

“Using a helicopter is a very costly option that should be reserved for serious incidents where members of the public are at real risk.

“It’s quite unbelievable that one was scrambled to track a meat thief.”

She added: “It’s obvious that Hertfordshire police have responded completely disproportionately here and, with police budgets under pressure, they’d be best advised to take a more moderate approach when dealing with supermarket shoplifters in future.”

A police spokeswoman said: “The helicopter is a valuable resource, particularly in search situations, as crews can cover a square mile in around 15 minutes.

“In this case, a substantial amount of meat had been stolen and the suspect was running through numerous gardens in an attempt to evade police.

“Within 15 minutes of the arrival of the helicopter, the crew had directed officers on the ground to a resident’s back garden and the suspect was arrested.”

She added: “Although helicopters are expensive to run – in the region of �800 an hour – they easily cover their costs by saving thousands of pounds in man-hours.

“After the man was arrested, officers involved in the search were released from the incident, enabling them to attend other calls.”

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