25 August 2009>
Visitors to this weekend's Big Balloon Festival in Blackwood will be treated to a special visit from a hi-tech police helicopter.
Air support officers from Gwent Police will touch down in the helicopter at Blackwood Showfields this Sunday in time for the start of the show and will be on hand to show visitors how effective the helicopter is in helping to tackle crime and disorder across Caerphilly county borough and other parts of Gwent.
This year's Big Balloon Festival is expected to draw in excess of 35,000 visitors to celebrate what is an excellent finale to Caerphilly County Borough Council's summer events programme.
The South and East Wales Air Support Unit based at St Athan provide a speedy response to all corners of Gwent and South Wales. They have been using the state-of-the-art police helicopter, Eurocopter EC 135T2I, since March 2008.
The helicopter can land and take-off vertically, meaning it can operate in difficult locations and is quieter than previous models. It has a carrier on board for police dogs, and a stretcher for casualty evacuation. It also has the latest camera technology along with digital image management and recording systems.
Leader of the council, Cllr Lindsay Whittle said, "The Big Balloon continues to increase in popularity, with new and exciting attractions helping to draw tens of thousands of visitors each year.
A visit from the police helicopter will provide an additional attraction for visitors to the festival, who will have the opportunity to see close up just how important and effective the helicopter is in helping to reduce crime and address other community safety issues in Caerphilly county borough.
I would encourage everyone to come along and have a fun and enjoyable day at the Big Balloon Festival."
Inspector Gary Smart from the South East Wales Air Support Unit, said: "We are looking forward to coming along to the Big Balloon this weekend. It will be an opportunity for visitors to see the helicopter that we use up-close as they have probably only seen us from afar previously. It's an extremely sophisticated and hi-tech piece of equipment that allows us to use various surveillance, recording, filming and photographing techniques."
The Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership will once again also be on hand at this years Big Balloon festival to provide information and guidance on the work being done to reduce levels of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in Caerphilly county borough.
Visitors to the marquee will have the chance to visit a number of stands, with information and advice on issues including anti-social behaviour, the Justice Seen Justice Done initiative, domestic abuse, substance misuse and lots more.
Gwent Police will also be offering the chance for a resident and three friends to visit the Air Support Unit at St Athan for the day. They will also be offering crime prevention advice for your home and car, and information on the Policing Pledge.
For further information on the Big Balloon Festival, please visit the Big Balloon website.
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