Last year the Norfolk policee force increased its aerial surveillance with a pilot scheme comprising four trained drone pilots and two drones.
Thanks to its repeated successes the scheme has been deemed fit enough to be expanded. Lending a testimonial to this scheme’s efficacy was the search operation launched to help locate Daniel John Minton in August last year.
Equipped with a high-resolution camera, the drones take only a few minutes to be launched from almost any location. Live aerial footage from the drone is then linked to an officer on the ground and the police control room.
The eight-month-old infant boy who had gone missing since April, 2017, after going with his parents, Daniel John Minton Snr and Tory Smith, from the Swaffham area was later found safe and sound thanks to the drone unit being put in use by the police authorities to assist in locating the baby.
A recently published report on police leadership today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) reveals that this drone scheme has not only caught the attention of inspectors but has also earned police bosses in Norfolk plaudits. The report said: “Leaders in Norfolk Constabulary are equally keen to promote innovation suggested by the wider workforce. The chief constable takes responsibility for promoting innovation and chairs an evidence-based policing group.”
“Officers can bid for funds to pilot new ideas and often have the opportunity to develop these ideas personally, as part of their development. Clear criteria make sure bids are based objectively on best practice, innovation and sustainability. One idea put into effect through this process is a new drone capability. This has reduced the force’s reliance on calling out expensive helicopters.”
Police sources revealed that the expenditure incurred in the training of the four drone pilots and the procurement of the two unmanned aerial systems (UAS), cost less than £8,000. Amongst their several uses the drones can be set to work in investigating rural crime, monitoring demonstrations apart from just conducting searching missions for missing people. The equipment is capable of flying in winds of up to 50mph and remains airborne for 20 minutes before a battery change is needed.
The pilot scheme followed a pledge by Lorne Green, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, to equip its officers with 21st century tools to fight 21st century crime.