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Drones to be deployed by local police force to cut costs

A patrolling drone unit that operates round the clock is set to be launched by a local UK police force.

Devon and Cornwall Police advertised for a “drone team manager” to set up and manage an “operational and dynamic drone response” from nine policing centres across the two counties and Dorset.

The force began trialling drones in November 2015 to test their operational effectiveness, using four DJI Inspire 1 devices with high-definition cameras to assist officers with police matters such as looking for missing people and taking crime scene photographs.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for drones, said forces were “committed to embracing new technologies to deliver high-quality, cost-effective services and protection to the public”.

“Drones are one of a number of options that can deliver air support both now and in the future.

“They have the potential to change the way we police by working with other technologies and updating traditional methods of foot and aerial patrols.

“Trials and consultations are ongoing to develop more guidance for how the police service can use drones to help keep people safe.

“Deploying drones is a decision for individual chief constables who ensure that they are used appropriately in the interest of public safety and efficient allocation of police resources.”

The use of drones for national security purposes is currently on the rise. Last year it emerged that the UK Government was considering using them to monitor the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland once the UK has left the EU. 

According to the Daily Mail, around 21 police forces are experimenting with the technology.

Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, strategic alliance commander for operations in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, told the paper that the drones would be a “significant piece of kit”, which would provide an “opportunity to improve technology available to police to better do what we do”. 

Earlier this year, Labour MP Nick Smith said police should consider using drones to track down off-road bikers who are “vandalising” the mountains of Wales.

During Home Office questions in the Commons, he said: “Because off-road bikers often go where the police cannot, can the Home Office look into providing resources, agreement and licencing on the use of drones to help us tackle this problem?”

E&T recently looked at the difficulties associated with widespread drone use including the possibility that they could be hijacked. 

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