Police forces across the country are now using drones to give officers a mobile eye in the sky, allowing them to scan large areas in a short time.
Fitted with high definition cameras and thermal imaging technology, drones can help the police to rapidly:
• Search large areas for vulnerable missing people.
• Manage critical incidents.
• Locate suspects known to be hiding in a specific area.
• Capture aerial images to assist in major incidents and events such as providing live feeds direct from football games and protests.
They’re also being tested to see if they can help catch dangerous and speeding drivers.
Stopping dangerous driving in the capital
In a ground-breaking project, the Metropolitan Police used drones between the 22 and 26 July this year to support the gathering of intelligence and evidence to try and crackdown on dangerous drivers.
The drones were specifically aimed at road users engaged in dangerous driving rather than targeting all speeding motorists. This might be car racing or types of activities that could potentially put others at risk. The devices relay information to officers on the ground, who then deal with the culprits.
This police drone activity was being used to support the Roads and Traffic Policing Command project. The operation was part of the Vision Zero initiative, a week of action to reduce deaths and injury on London roads.
Catching speeding drivers on high-risk routes
Drones are also being used by police in London to catch speeding drivers. The drones can operate at both high and low altitudes and have a night vision function.
They’re being used to identify only those travelling at dangerously high speeds. The footage is passed to officers on the ground, who can pull over the offending motorists. It’s hoped they’ll be successful in apprehending dangerous drivers along some of the capital’s busiest roads.
The aim is for the drones to be active on major routes where speeding offences are more common. For example, in the last two years, the A10 near Enfield has seen eight fatalities.
Encouraging safe driving
So far, the Metropolitan Police is the first British force to deploy drones to monitor road users. However, if the project is successful, it will be extended to more of the capital’s roads, and to other forces across the UK.
The focus is not only on drivers who put people’s lives at risk, it’s about deterrence as well as catching dangerous motorists.
According to Detective Superintendent Andy Cox, the head of the Metropolitan Police’s Roads and Traffic Policing Unit, “This is one of many enforcement tactics being used. Its aim is to deter dangerous driving, and we hope the message of ‘drive lawfully, stay safe and keep a clean licence’ is widely understood.
Deterrence is sometimes best achieved through intense enforcement, and that's what this capability enables. The focus will be on dangerous drivers who are racing and those putting their lives and other people at risk.”
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