Moped thieves in London may have a new nemesis swooping down from the sky – police drones.
This week, Scotland Yard announced a preliminary plan to deploy drones across the city to stop the growing problem of moped theft. Reportedly, gangs are stealing the small motor bikes in order to commit drive-by shootings and armed robbery.
The Metropolitan Police told British media that discussions have taken place at high levels concerning the purchase of a “fleet of police drones.”
“The applications of unmanned aerial vehicles to tackle suspects using two wheeled vehicles to commit crime are currently being discussed at a national level by the NPCC national steering group and the Centre for Applied Science and Technology,” a Scotland Yard official stated.
“Should this prove to be an effective policing tool in such circumstances, police forces would be able to procure them when they came onto the market.”
In an interview with The Evening Standard, London aviation expert Julian Bray said using UAVs to chase moped thieves would likely save money and lives – especially those of bystanders who could be injured or killed in a high-speed pursuit.
“It would be much cheaper and the drone could sit over an area and direct ground units to the fleeing car or motorbike,” Bray said. “There are issues with Civil Aviation Authority rules but I am sure they will make it work because it could save money and it may save lives, because you would not have police cars tearing after suspects in high-speed chases.”
Police deployment of drones is moving across Britain even faster than the nation’s inevitable exit from the EU. For example, Constabulary of Durham recently applied for Civil Aviation Authority permit to down and operate two drones.
Officials want to use UAVs for surveillance against organized crime elements as well as to monitor traffic accidents. The department plans to share any data obtained with neighboring police.
The nearby Cleveland Police department also hopes drones can provide an inexpensive search and investigation tool.
Two thirds of fire services in the UK and half of police forces are now using drones or have plans to do so.