This Police Force Expanded Its Use Of Drones

This Police Force Expanded Its Use Of Drones

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In this age of drones, we see increased drone usage by Police to catch criminals, find missing people and improve safety at events. Since the “eyes in the sky” trials of 2019 in the UK, dozens more pilots have been trained, flying hours have greatly increased, and the Joint Operations Unit now deploys drones around 1,500 times a year, according to BBC News.

Inspector Guy Summers, who manages air and marine support across the Thames Valley, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, spoke about the expansion in the field in the last four years, saying they have gone “from 15 to 20 pilots [and] seven drones to 130 pilots and 49 drones… We’ve also gone from a couple of hundred jobs a year to 1,500 deployments a year across the two forces so it’s a massive change.”

However, the rapidly increasing pace of drone innovation is still a challenge. “We, in the police, need to make sure that we keep up with technology, but not race too far ahead and then find that the product we have been given is not fit for standard… but if we spend two years trying to find the best product, we’re two years behind. So that’s a real balance ” said Insp Summers.

According to BBC News, current regulations state the police must be able to see a drone to fly it safely, but the Joint Operations Unit is working with the National Police Chiefs Council, the Civil Aviation Authority and others on technology that could allow pilots to fly one as far as 100km.

Insp Summers said accurate hazard detection systems would be essential, adding “We need to be safe, so we need to be able to see all the other aircraft or birds or anything else in the air space.”

At the Reading and the Isle of Wight’s festivals, and at Henley Regatta, drones were in the air for around 70 hours, and during a national drugs enforcement program Thames Valley Police deployed drones that used infra-red cameras to confirm the locations of dozens of cannabis factories.