British police agencies are keeping the “Game of Drones” alive and well as more departments deploy UAVs to fight crime and search for missing persons.
The Constabulary of Durham recently applied for permission with Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority to deploy two drones. Officials want to use them for surveillance against organized crime elements as well as to monitor traffic accidents. The department plans to share any data obtained with neighboring police.
“There may be times for example where we can use it to search for electricity extraction linked to a cannabis grow,” Inspector Mick Button told Northumberland Today.
“It might be at the have a prominent member of the royal family or the prime minister visiting and we need to establish a secure footprint of where they will visit,” he added. [The drone] can be sent up and do a search of the roof space within 10 minutes.”
Durham’s drone plan has caught the attention of the nearby Cleveland Police force. According to The Gazette, the department hopes to gain the same advantage enjoyed by drone-packing law enforcement across the globe – an inexpensive search and investigation tool.
“We are constantly looking at innovative ways in which to reduce crime and keep our communities safe,” a Cleveland official told reporters.
“Whilst we have not yet developed a project around the use of drones, we will be taking a keen interest in the work of Durham Constabulary in this arena.”
In Cobourg, police flew into a local controversy after a local youth services staffer called the police to report a police drone hovering near a youth facility.
Police say the department had no intention of violating the privacy of troubled youth at the facility, stating instead that the drone had been filming a nearby torch run to promote the department’s drone capabilities.
“While our ministry has no specific policy regarding drones, service providers are responsible for making every effort to protect the privacy and identity of young persons,” said Peter Spadoni, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. “We treat all potential breaches of security and confidentiality seriously.”
Two thirds of fire services in the UK and half of police forces are now using drones or have plans to do so.