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Drones on duty: UK Police to trial aerial officers

The Home Office has awarded Sussex and Surrey Police a huge grant to fund drone trials.

The regional department will receive £250,000 to buy five unmanned aerial vehicles, and conduct tests to see how the technology can help with investigating crime.

While we probably won’t see drones chasing unscrupulous folks down Surrey’s country lanes any time soon, there are clear uses for the airborne tech in the realms of policing.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, of Sussex and Surry police, said: “Some of the benefits of the UAV system have already been demonstrated during the relatively short period that we have had the equipment for.”

They can go to places where it is unsafe for officers and can gather evidence quickly that could be vital in an investigation or that could help us deploy officers to the right places at the right time, potentially allowing us to make life-saving decisions.”

Examples of unsafe places would include smoky environments, or crime scenes where hazardous chemicals have been spilled.

They’ll also be able to capture evidence from the skies, for example snapping bird’s eye shots of traffic accidents or tracking down missing persons.

The UAVs will also be able to cover distances seven times quicker than officers on foot.

Related: Best drones and quadcopters at CES 2015

“This is not about providing cut-price policing but about using technology to enhance the way we work,” continued Barry.

“UAVs could prove extremely useful during a range of incidents and I am delighted the extra funding from the Home office means we can explore more closely exactly what they can do.”

The Home Office hopes that its grant will help transform policing, and reduce costs across the force.

Policing Minister Mike Penning said: “By working together, utilising technology and embracing new ideas, the police can do their job even better.”

“While we are not suggesting that UAVs should replace police officers in everyday situations, early findings of this work suggests new technology could transform the police’s response in certain difficult or dangerous situations.”

Here’s a video of Sussex Police:

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