The mystery of why a helicopter was flying repeatedly over Tavistock has been solved.

Residents were mystified by the sight of a helicopter flying in circles over the town on Sunday evening (March 31) between 10pm and 10.30pm, while at the same several police cars were patrolling the streets.

Social media pages for Tavistock area were buzzing with interest as the noise and spotlights on the helicopter disturbed night time peace and attracted widespread interest and speculation.

A spokesman for the National Police Air Service (NPAS) said: “At 9.42pm on Sunday, 31 March, a police helicopter crew from NPAS Exeter was deployed to the Tavistock area to support Devon and Cornwall Police in a search for a vulnerable person. Total flight time was one hour and 28 minutes.” 

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed the aircraft was flying in support of an operation to search for a vulnerable woman. The search began in Plymouth and spread to Tavistock after reports she might have been heading for the town.

A force spokesman said: “Police were called at 7.50pm on Sunday, May 31, following concern for the welfare of a woman reported missing from Plymouth.

“Following enquiries it was believed that the woman in her 50s had travelled towards the Tavistock area.

“Local officers conducted searches in the Tavistock and surrounding area with the assistance of the police helicopter.

“At 11.20pm, the woman was detained in Pixon Lane, Tavistock, under the Mental Health Act. She was taken into the care of health professionals.”