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Norfolk could be set for more crime-fighting drones after early successes in police trial

PUBLISHED: 09:57 01 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:34 01 October 2017

Norfolk Constabulary unveil their new police drone. Left to right, PCC Lorne Green, police drone pilot Sgt Danny Leach and deputy chief constable Nick Dean. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk Constabulary unveil their new police drone. Left to right, PCC Lorne Green, police drone pilot Sgt Danny Leach and deputy chief constable Nick Dean. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

More drones could soon be patrolling the skies above Norfolk following the early success of a trial which has shown the sky’s the limit when it comes to the crime-fighting technology.

Norfolk Constabulary unveil their new police drone. Police drone pilot Sgt Danny Leach. Picture : ANTONY KELLYNorfolk Constabulary unveil their new police drone. Police drone pilot Sgt Danny Leach. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Two drones have been keeping a watchful eye from the sky over the county as part of a three-month trial launched by Norfolk police.

The state-of-the-art machines can be launched within minutes from any location and are armed with a high-resolution camera which sends back live aerial footage to officers on the ground and the police control room.

It was hoped the drones might be able to help detect rural crime, monitor demonstrations and search for missing people.

The trial, which started at the start of last month, has proved such a success so far that the scheme might yet be extended, resulting in more drones policing Norfolk.

Norfolk Constabulary unveil their new police drone. Police drone pilot Sgt Danny Leach. Picture : ANTONY KELLYNorfolk Constabulary unveil their new police drone. Police drone pilot Sgt Danny Leach. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

In August a drone unit helped locate eight-month-old Daniel John Minton who had not been seen since April after having gone missing with his parents, Daniel John Minton Snr and Tory Smith, from the Swaffham area.

Meanwhile, earlier this month a car was seized after a drone was used in the pursuit of suspected hare coursers in the Downham Market area.

Lorne Green, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, who has pledged to give officers 21st century tools to fight 21st century crime, said he is encouraged by the results.

He said: “We’ve got these initial successes and providing, at the end of the three month period, things continue to proceed that way, we could be seeing more.

Norfolks PCC, Lorne Green. Photo : Steve AdamsNorfolks PCC, Lorne Green. Photo : Steve Adams

“I’ve asked the chief constable, once the trial has completed and he has digested the results, that he reports to me and if his conclusions are as promising as they appear to be to date my commitment is to extend drones across the county.”

Although he would not confirm exactly how many more drones that might be Mr Green said there could be a “significant increase” in numbers.

Mr Green said one of the biggest advantages of drone technology was to “free up time so officers get on with other jobs” rather than, for example, having to spend hours searching rural areas for hare coursers

Police have said the cost of training four drone pilots and purchasing two unmanned aerial systems cost less than £8,000.


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