A police helicopter has helped with the arrest of nearly 350 people and responded to almost 2,700 calls in the first eight months of this year, new figures have revealed.
Since January 1, the West Midlands force helicopter has been involved in a total of 338 arrests.
The recognisable blue and yellow branded chopper has also helped to recover property worth around £1 million and aided with the recovery and seizure of 50 vehicles.
In April, it also helped to monitor a large-scale fire that broke out at the Smurfit Kappa paper recycling complex based in Nechells, Birmingham.
Some 9,000 tons of cardboard bales, which covered seven acres at the site, were alight at the height of the fire and more than 100 firefighters and 28 fire engines attended.
The crew took video footage of the blaze and were able to update emergency services dealing with the fire on the ground.
Martin Knowles, supervisor for air support, said: “We have a vast array of technology on board the helicopter.
The cameras are extremely powerful and can zoom in to read a car number plate from heights in excess of 2,000 feet.
“Offenders may believe they have more chance of fleeing in the dead of night but they can’t escape our thermal imaging cameras.
“We pick up heat images emitted by hedgehogs and birds, so a crime suspect hiding in undergrowth poses no problems.”
The helicopter also transports casualties in life or death situations when the air ambulance cannot work and has helped locate 17 missing people since the start of the year druing various operations.
Mr Knowles added: “The helicopter is based at Birmingham Airport but with a cruising speed of 120mph, we can reach anywhere in the force area within a matter of minutes.
“It takes around 10 minutes to reach Wolverhampton, seven minutes to be over Coventry and just three minutes before we’re hovering over Birmingham city centre.
“There may be times we need to get our search dogs to a location, possibly outside of the West Midlands, in double quick time, so the best way is to fly them there.
“That’s why we occasionally give the dogs a familiarisation flight, to make sure they are not spooked by the noise, sights and motion of the helicopter.”
During the whole of 2012 the helicopter helped with 537 arrests and 3,689 calls during its operations.