LANCASHIRE Police are due to find out in the next few weeks if a funding bid for a new £2million helicopter has been successful.

The constabulary has submitted a bid for £1million to the Home Office to help with the cost of replacing the existing helicopter.

The the rest of the cost will be covered by the sale of the current aircraft for about £1million and existing police budgets.

Police say the present helicopter has become too expensive to maintain after running costs soared to £260,000 a year.

The AS355N twin squirrel was bought for £1.6million in 1994 when the Lancashire Constabulary Air Support Unit was set up.

Since then it has flown 5,100 hours during more than 10,000 flights and 14,000 operations.

In the last year alone the police helicopter flew 900 hours involving 1,539 flights and 2,380 tasks.

Its use resulted in the arrest of 387 people, the location of 17 missing people and the recovery of £187,000 worth of of stolen property.

The constabulary says the new helicopter would be cheaper to run, operate more quietly and offer increased capabilities.