Norfolk police chiefs praised for 'innovative' drones scheme
PUBLISHED: 11:33 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:33 09 February 2018
Norfolk police chiefs have been commended for "promoting innovation" in a report out today which praises the launch of the force's drones project.
Last year the Norfolk force embarked on a pilot scheme which involved training four drone pilots and purchasing two drones to keep a watchful eye from the sky over the county.
The scheme has proved such a hit that it has since been expanded following a number of successes, including helping to locate Daniel John Minton in August last year.
The eight-month-old boy had not been seen since April, 2017, after going missing with his parents, Daniel John Minton Snr and Tory Smith, from the Swaffham area.
The drones scheme attracted the attention of inspectors and has earned police bosses in Norfolk plaudits in a new report on police leadership published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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.”
Armed with a high-resolution camera, the drones can be launched within minutes from almost any location.
Live aerial footage is then linked to an officer on the ground and the police control room.
Police said the cost of training four drone pilots and purchasing two unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which can be used to investigate rural crime, monitor demonstrations and search for missing people, cost less than £8,000.
The equipment can fly in winds of up to 50mph and stay in the air 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 give officers 21st century tools to fight 21st century crime.