Gallery: Stunning aerial images captured by South Wales helicops

By James McCarthy

These are just some of the stunning images captured by the self-styled Helicops of South Wales Police.

The images offer views of Cardiff most of us are unlikely to see – unless we end up on the wrong end of the long arm of the law.

Some snaps were captured on request before being tweeted to the world by the officers on patrol.

Helicops – whose Eurocopter cruises at 140mph and can reach 10,000ft – is sometimes called the Air Support Unit by South Wales Police.

Inspector Gary Smart revealed what the real flying squad does best.

He said: “The helicopter is very effective at finding missing people as it has thermal image cameras that can see at very long range, so we are used a lot for that purpose.

“We also frequently take pictures of collision scenes and search for people involved in criminality.”

The crew, usually three-man, are often involved in rescues.

“We carry devices like life buoys and co-ordinate such rescue attempts with partner agencies such as the coastguard,” Inspector Smart said.

“We get a lot of messages of support on Twitter thanking us if we’ve helped in an area where a follower lives.

“That’s great for the team as we realise we’re making a difference and playing an important part in keeping South Wales safe.”

The Helicops habit of tweeting from missions was swiftly copied by other forces.

Police in the West Midlands, Staffordshire, the East Midlands, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Sussex, Surrey, Essex, Kent and South Yorkshire have all now set up their own Twitter feeds.

Wales’ finest started tweeting in March 2010. Since then they have persuaded more than 5,000 followers to come along for the ride.

They have credited Twitter with supplying them with some of their most useful tips.

Other divisions within SWP have also started their own feeds.

Insp Smart said: “We don’t always catch the person we are looking for, they might have the information to tell the police via 101 so we can arrest the person at another time, so that’s good as well.”

White water rafting centre, Cardiff
Race for Life, Cardiff
Cardiff Bay
Merthyr MawrThe Big Cheese, Caerphilly
Sourced by Wales Online

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