THE final shift has been completed by a police search and rescue helicopter from a Lancashire base.

The county site at Warton has ceased operations as a result of cuts confirmed by the National Police Air Service (NPAS). Critics claimed lives would be put at risk by the closure.

One of the last duties for the final shift was a ‘welfare check’ in the Hapton area.

In a tweet, the last day crew said: “Sadly our last operational shift has arrived. Thank you for all your amazing support and kind words.”

One night-shift colleague said it had been an 'honour and a privilege' to serve at Warton for the past 23 years.

Tributes were paid to the outgoing NPAS team by fellow emergency service and volunteer crews including Bowland Pennine mountain rescue, rural and motorway police in Lancashire and Bay Search and Rescue charity.

Lancashire will now be covered by bases at Barton, in Greater Manchester, and Hawarden, on the Welsh border near Chester.

Police air bosses have said they needed to make savings of 14 per cent over three years.

Chief Supt Tyron Joyce, NPAS chief operating officer, said: “We will continue to maintain essential air support but at a significantly reduced cost to the public.”