Call for police to consider drone use to fight crime

Norfolk police have been urged to look into whether there is potential in using drones. Pic: Niall C

Norfolk police have been urged to look into whether there is potential in using drones. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Police in Norfolk should explore the potential of using drones to help combat crime, according to the county's police commissioner.

A number of forces in the country have carried out trials into unmanned aerial systems, equipped with high definition cameras to capture both video and still images.

And police and crime commissioner Lorne Green believes Norfolk police need to 'think out of the box' and consider whether the force could benefit from using the devices, for example, when in pursuit of suspects or at road crashes.

His comments came at a meeting of the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel, where Mr Green's consultation over a possible rise in the police precept of council tax of up to 2pc was discussed.

During a discussion over the force's investment in technology to save money Brian Long, leader of West Norfolk Council said the only time he ever saw the police helicopter was when the force was searching for a missing person.

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He asked what sort of technological innovations the force was making use of and asked: 'I wonder if drones could be cheaper than the police helicopter?'

Mr Green said: 'I do have some things in my toolkit which I would like to look at and one of them is drones. They do not solve all problems everywhere, but they are being utilised elsewhere in the country.

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'I think as we move forward with closer collaboration with the fire and rescue service, I can conceive of important application of drones.'

After the meeting, Conservative police and crime commissioner Mr Green said it was worth exploring whether drones could be used in investigating fires, at crash scenes and when police were pursuing suspects.

Other forces, such as Surrey, Bedfordshire, Warwickshire and West Mersea, plus Devon, Cornwall and Dorset have carried out trials using drones.

Those forces have used drones at road traffic collisions, to help look for suspects who have run off and in the search for missing people.

Suffolk police also deployed a drone earlier this year in the search for suspected murder victim Sylvia Stuart in Weybread.

Mr Green stressed he had yet to look in detail at the results of where trials have been carried out in other areas, but said: 'We need to think outside the box.'

Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk police, said: 'I recognise that drones offer some potential and some use in tightly controlled circumstances, but they are not a suitable replacement for the police helicopter.'

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