Police helicopter twitter account stops Islington complaints

Complaints about police helicopter noise – among the highest in London last year – have stopped.

The Air Support Unit (ASU) say objections from Islington residents have dropped to zero since the Gazette published details of where and when the helicopters operated.

Last year, the Met was bombarded with complaints from people in Highbury, Holloway and Barnsbury saying that their sleep was being disturbed. A blog was even set up for people to air their grievances.

In September, a Gazette article explained the job of the chopper and revealed it was only above Islington for an average of 20 minutes a week.

Sgt Richard Brandon, second in command in the unit, said that he hasn’t had a single complaint from Islington people since.

Then the ASU set up a Twitter account for the chopper, letting people know what operations were being carried out.

He said: “We have been staggered by the response to the Twitter account – we have 7,000 followers and it has only been going a few weeks.

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“Someone posted a link to the Islington blog, and there has been nothing added to it since the Gazette story. In fact I have not dealt with a single negative comment from the borough since then.

“Maybe that is all people wanted – just to know and understand what we were doing. We don’t update people in real time, but my vision is that soon we will be able to let people know about an operation as soon as it is over.

“In some cases we could get them to help – imagine if an elderly person with Alzheimer’s was missing in Islington, we could Tweet our followers to keep an eye out.”

Sgt Brandon said he was reluctant to adopt the scheme initially. “To be honest it was not my first choice. I am not from the Twitter generation and I don’t really understand it. But we ran out of excuses and we have been blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response.”

n You can follow the police helicopter @MPSinthesky or Islington Police @MPSislington.