British Police Are Testing a £250k Drone Squadron

By Tom Pritchard on at

The Police Innovation fund has bequeathed £250,000 to Surrey and Sussex Police, so it can perform the "largest trial of police drones in England and Wales". Clearly the rozzers haven't done that much work with drones in the past, since this test will only involve five UAVs - four of which are brand new.

Currently Surrey and Sussex Police only have a single drone, An Aeryon SkyRanger, which has been put to use at Gatwick Airport since 2014. The new money will allow the force to buy another four.

The five-fold 'fleet' will then be deployed to Eastbourne Neighbourhood Response Team, Guildford Targeted Patrol Team, Gatwick Armed Response Vehicles, Shoreham Forensic Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Unit, as well as Lewes Operations Command Search and Operations Planning. 38 people will be trained to "Civil Aviation Authority accredited standards" in order to operate the drones.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, head of Surrey and Sussex Police Operations, said:

"Our drone operations will be overt, open and transparent, and we will use all outlets available to us to ensure the public are informed of our drone use. We have consulted extensively with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC), both of whom are satisfied with the approach we have taken over privacy and data protection. The OSC recently saw the Gatwick drone being operated and was impressed with our operational protocols."

Since it first went into service, the Gatwick SkyRanger drone has been involved in a number of police activities including missing person searches, airport security, crash scene investigation, and acted as response units to protests. Presumably the extra four will expand those efforts. [Police Oracle via The Register]

Image Credit: Aeryon Labs