Police drones complete first week of trial

Police drones
Police drones

Police drones have completed a week of testing across Warwickshire and already helped track down a missing person and provide evidence in traffic collisions.

During the first week of a six month trial by Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, the flying machines which are fitted with cameras, have successfully helped officers at five separate incidents.

An unmanned drone was used at three road traffic collisions and assisted officers in the search for a missing person. The drone was also used to support officers searching for someone believed to have run off from a suspected stolen vehicle.

Inspector Damian Sowrey who is overseeing the trial said the trial will test the machines in two ways - at the scenes of incidents, and at planned operations such as managing public safety at large events.

He said: “During the first week of the trial the drone has helped us gather evidence by taking aerial photographs of road traffic collisions and also assisted officers search an area by providing an aerial view that can be viewed from the ground.

“Whilst there are a lot of benefits to the use of drones, we are keen to reassure the public that public safety is of paramount importance at all times.”

In January, the drone helped officers find the victim of a road traffic collision near Evesham and to take photographs to be used as evidence following a road crash near Shifnal.

This month it helped find a missing person from the Nuneaton area. He was later found by officers and is now back with his family.

It was also used near Bromsgrove to help in the search for a man who abandoned a suspected stolen vehicle.

The trial is costing £30,000 and started on Monday November 9. It will involve two drones over six months before both forces decide to incorporate drones into their operations or not.

Each drone is controlled by a trained operator who has responsibility for the direction and control of the aircraft.

A second person, an observer is responsible for operating the photographic equipment attached to the device.

The data the drones gather is held on a stand alone system within the forces and stored in the same way as body worn video and CCTV.

Drone operations are carried out in accordance with the relevant police and Civil Aviation Authority guidelines.