Police Drones

Police departments and law enforcers starting using drones to help with investigations as early as 2009 say some reports.  Due to the complexity of the law surrounding drones, the need to have the correct permissions in place with the correct insurance options, the use of drones seemed to stop as quick as is started.  Recently in the last few years there has been a resurgence of police departments gaining funding and trailing drones with many more now listed with commercial permissions.

Check out the video below of the UK's first fully operational drone unit:  Devon, Cornwall And Dorset Police

Which police forces are currently using drones in the UK?

Currently from April 2018 there are a wide range of police departments using UAVs.  According to the CAA there are 18 police units on the CAP1361: Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) operators holding a valid CAA permission.  Some police counties and districts have applied for permissions together as can be seen below.

  • Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire And Hertfordshire Constabularies
  • British Transport Police
  • Devon, Cornwall And Dorset Police
  • Essex Police
  • Kent Police
  • Lincolnshire Police
  • Metropolitan Police Service – Forensic Services
  • North Wales Police
  • North Yorkshire Police
  • Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Police Of Northern Ireland Air Support Unit
  • South Wales Police
  • South Yorkshire Police
  • Surrey And Sussex Police
  • West Midlands Police
  • West Yorkshire Police
  • West Yorkshire Police 13XT Division
  • Wiltshire Police

What are the police using UAVs for?

Drones have a wide variety of uses and are able to do a lot of things which help the police in difficult situations.  Drones can be used to help officers with investigations, search for missing people and are even used for taking photographs of crime scenes.

The use of drones is very appealing to the police as UAVs can reach in places that your local police officer cannot.

Is a criminal hiding somewhere high?  A drone can help find them.

Looking for something in a dangerous place that will endanger an officer?  Send a drone in.

Nowadays with the footage being recorded easily and with such good image quality the photos or images can also be used to help with investigations and can be valuable if they are used in criminal cases.

Search & Rescue

The search for a missing person can be greatly increased with the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle.  A drone can cover a vast area creating a more effective and quicker search.  Couple with the likes of a thermal imaging camera searches can continue in to the night.  Using a UAV can also create a safer searching environment for officers letting them look in difficult to access places which could potentially put them in danger also.

Assist in investigations

Whether being used to help gather evidence in road traffic accidents, major crime incidents or industrial accidents, UAVs can be used to assist the police in these scenarios.  A drone cannot be used in all situations but when they can it helps a police force use the resources to hand a lot more effectively.

What equipment are the police using?

There are many types of drones which a police department might find useful dependant on what the main task it is used for.

Many of the more popular models that we insure have been seen in use by police force in the UK.  These include the aeryon skyranger, DJI Inspire 1 and DJI M210.

Devon and Cornwall Police, which started trialling drones in 2015 started of with a small fleet on DJI Inspire 1’s.  The inspire 1 was a great model which had an interchangeable payload so you could switch your camera based on whether you need phot, film or thermal imaging.

Other police and law enforcers like Sussex and Surrey use a fleet of aeryon skyrangers.  The aeryon skyranger is a rugged UAV which is capable of extreme conditions including high speed winds, rain and adverse temperature conditions.  Another feature is all communications are encrypted making it difficult for hijacking and interception.

What are the regulations and legislations about police drone flying?

Police departments are still required to abide by the law when flying UAVs.  Many police services are opting to obtain a PfCO.  A permission has to be granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and all operators and pilots will need to have completed a ground school tet and flying competency test to prove their ability to fly.

Part of this is having the correct insurance in place.  We are able to provide fully compliant insurance policies for emergency services departments including the police.  All our policies meet regulation EC 785/2004 and we can add on cover for any special permissions which have been granted by the CAA.

Law enforcement in the UK has some of the biggest operator fleets and trained pilots and we can help you sort out the correct insurance which meets all the requirements.

Find out more about how we can help you organise an insurance policy which suits your needs by giving us a call on 0207 112 8140.