Drones are assisting Devon and Cornwall Police’s operations by replacing helicopters on a number of tasks.
Missing person searches, aerial crime-scene photography and surveillance at major events such as music festivals have now been successfully carried out with drones.
The lightweight drones are powered by battery and are considerably less expensive to run than police helicopters. However, police helicopters are here to stay, Devon and Cornwall Police have confirmed.
Whilst there has been a rapid onset of drone technology, some tasks will remain under the remit of police helicopters for the foreseeable future. Flying in poor weather, high speed pursuits, and long range operations still rely on the traditional manned helicopter. Devon and Cornwall Police was the first force in the country to create a dedicated ‘drone unit’ in 2017.
The drones are particularly useful in remote rural areas such as woodland, cliffs and moorland. The lightweight drones are easy to launch and can barely be detected whilst overhead and only require one person to operate them from the ground. A police drone was also used during The Royal Clarence Hotel fire in Exeter, offering fire teams an aerial perspective of the hotel.
The news comes as Devon and Cornwall Police warned the public that all drone hobbyists would be included in new Government legislation passed last month. The legislation has extended no-fly zones around airports and called for a new drone register.