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Police unveil drone unit

Police in south west England have launched their first drone unit.

Forces in Dorset, Cornwall and Devon have made a "historic step" by introducing drones to enhance their police work and encourage efficiency.

Five officers are currently trained to use one of the six drones - which have zoom and thermal imaging built in - and a further 40 other officers are aiming to complete their Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accreditation by this time next year.

Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, commander for the Alliance Operations Department, said: "It's a historic step [for British policing]. This technology offers a highly cost-effective approach in supporting our officers on the ground in operational policing."

The drones cost £2,000 each for the basic camera, with extra cost for the zoom and thermal additions but Chief Superintendent Jim Nye believes it will save money in the long run as helicopters cost about £800 per hour for the police to run.

He added: "I think long term, it will be very cost effective to use the drones. The helicopter isn't always available and you want to have it available for life-threatening situations. This is not going to be a replacement to police officers, this is going to complement what we do. I think the public would expect that if we can get value for money with a drone over a helicopter, that we do so."

Nye is also convinced the drones could be used to combat terrorism or during firearm incidents and reduce the risk for police officers on the ground.

He added: "Drones can even help police track and monitor suspects during a firearm or terrorist incident. Being the first police forces in the country to have a standalone, fully operational drone unit is a great source of pride for the alliance."

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