Police in the UK are trialling the use of drones as an alternative policing method and could soon be using the remote-control devices in a range of scenarios.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said that they’ve been working with the Home Office to investigate how drones might be used in “law enforcement and counter terrorist work, including for support for emergency response or for public order events.”
If the plans go ahead, it could mean drones keeping an eye on people at protests, flying around siege scenarios, or helping to find missing persons or thieves.
Some police forces in the UK are looking into the use of drones to see if they are an effective and less costly alternative to traditional policing methods, such as aerial and foot patrols or CCTV,” Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, the NPCC Lead for Unmanned Aerial Systems, said in a statement provided to Mashable.
Trials are ongoing, Barry added, and the police service is working on national guidelines for the use of drones. “Their operation is governed by Civil Aviation Authority regulations, as well as local restrictions concerning the use of drones at airports, major road networks and sea ports,” he said.
Over a quarter of the 43 forces in England and Wales are considering using drones. A trial carried out by Sussex and Surrey forces, using five Aeryon SkyRanger drones at a cost of £250,000 ($366,306), has been successful, the paper says.
Aeryon drones have been used by emergency services in the UK before. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has a team of operators who are allowed to fly the aircraft, which have night vision and will soon be fitted with a zoom, some 122 m (400 feet) above ground and 500 m (1,640 feet) away from the controller. They were used for aerial views of the flooding after Storm Desmond in December.