‘Bespoke’ drone technology enhances forces’ capability

Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police are expanding their fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, to take advantage of the latest imaging technology.

Dec 13, 2017

Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police are expanding their fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, to take advantage of the latest imaging technology. The forces were the first to create a dedicated drone unit employing full-time ‘pilots’, hailed as an “historic step for policing in the UK” when it was launched in the summer. Now they have agreed an exclusive supplier partnership with COPTRZ that will give them access to a “bespoke” range of specialist drones equipped with optical zoom and thermal imaging capabilities. Investment in the new drones follows 18 months of successful trials across the region, during which the forces found that their use significantly increased response time and cost-effectiveness of aerial assets. COPTRZ says it will offer a “complete UAV solution”, including airframe, batteries, cameras, control systems and ongoing maintenance and warranty support for the duration of the lifespan of each aircraft. The drones will be used mainly for missing person searches, crime scene investigations and fast response to major road traffic collisions. They will also help search the forces’ 600 miles of coastline. A number of the drones will be equipped with dual camera capabilities, enabling ground teams to receive both thermal and optical zoom data simultaneously. The South West alliance aims to have 40 officers complete their Civil Aviation Authority UAV training and up to 18 drones in operation by the start of 2018. Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, commander for the Alliance Operations Department, said the technology offers a “highly cost-effective approach in supporting our officers on the ground in operational policing”. Drone team manager Andy Hamilton said the technology can help them become more efficient in what they are trying to achieve, adding: “In the past, any aerial photos or videos have been captured by the National Police Air Service helicopter, which is not always the best use of resources. Instead of always sending a helicopter on an hour’s flight to take a few photos of a crime scene, we can now use a drone to carry out the same task,” he said. Steve Coulson, founder and managing director of COPTRZ, said they had been able to provide a “bespoke solution that will prove to be an excellent asset to Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police”. •The European Parliament has just agreed the first ever EU-wide rules for the civil use of drones. Currently, drones lighter than 150kg fall under the jurisdiction of national authorities and therefore EU manufacturers and operators are subject to different design and safety requirements. Now the design and manufacture of drones will have to comply with EU basic requirements on safety, security and personal data protection. However, there are no specific references yet on compliance with the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation.

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