Nine arrests in Norwich as police use drones during Halloween patrols

.An officer watches Halloween clubbers on Prince of Wales Road

An officer watches Halloween clubbers on Prince of Wales Road. - Credit: Neil Perry/Archant

Police used drones during Halloween patrols in Norwich city centre, leading to nine arrests, including one on suspicion of drink spiking. 

Party-goers flocked to the city on Saturday for one of the busiest nights of the year. 

The majority of the arrests were for being drunk and disorderly but one person was arrested on suspicion of spiking a victim’s drink.  

It came as increased incidents of spiking have raised concerns locally.

Evidence is secured by officers after an arrest in connection with an alleged drink spiking incident in Norwich.

Evidence is secured by officers after an arrest in connection with an alleged drink spiking incident in Norwich. - Credit: Neil Perry/Archant

Matt Paine, acting sergeant of the community safety operations unit, said: “Tonight is the first time that we have been using the drones in order to police our night-time economy. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to use our innovative technology to safe guard vulnerable people in the back streets of Norwich. 

“We can see using our thermal imaging camera very clearly people on the back streets and anybody who looks like they may be in any difficulty we can direct our colleagues to go and support them. 

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“We can fly lawfully 500 metres away from the point we are currently at. We have different points that we can use throughout the city so at the moment we are utilising areas which are obviously going to be used off the back of Prince of Wales Road. 

“It’s something we are looking to implement more in the future.” 

Acting inspector Abigail Horton-Smith reported three suspected spiking incidents on Saturday night – one incident involving a drink and two by needlesticks. 

Operation Impact is part of police efforts to crack down on this type of behaviour. 

Officers have been working with clubs, door staff and Norwich’s SOS bus to help those who may have been spiked but also to find the offenders. 

A member of the Norfolk Police drone team pilots the thermal camera over Norwich

A member of the Norfolk Police drone team pilots the thermal camera over Norwich during Halloween celebrations on Saturday night. - Credit: Neil Perry/Archant

But as well as people on the ground, on Saturday night - for the first time – drones were deployed to keep a close eye on the city’s hidden back streets where vulnerable or highly intoxicated people could get into trouble. 

Acting inspector Horton-Smith said: “Overall, the night has been really enjoyable we have had really high footfall in the city, lots of people coming out to enjoy themselves and have a great time. 

“There is clearly a heightened awareness. There have been a number of times tonight where door staff have made us aware of people, they have been concerned about presenting as heavily intoxicated and vulnerable.  

“That gives us that opportunity to engage those people take them down to the SOS bus and make sure they are okay.  

She continued: “We have had a few spiking incidents reported to us and our detective team who have been on tonight have been overseeing those investigations.  

“I’m pleased to report that we have had one suspect arrested on suspicion on spiking a victim’s drink. 

“We have had two reports of needlestick injuries but the majority have been concerns around actual drink spiking.  

“We can’t confirm at this time whether drinks have been spikes but those investigations are underway. The detectives are seeing what evidence we can ultimately pull out.” 

Inspector Horton-Smith urged anyone waking up who finds needles marks and believes they may have been spiked to contact the police immediately. 

She said: "We had lots of extra resources on due to the sheer footfall  particularly with Halloween being cancelled last year. 

“We also had an investigation team, headed with a detective sergeant and three detective constables. They were on hand to support the officers with any type of investigations which crop up. 

“It’s really important to us that when people are out and about that they remain vigilant and look out for each other.  

“We are very much taking a team approach with door staff and people working at the night clubs.  

“We will then work with them and the detective team to support any victims and look to try and secure any type of any forensic opportunities that we can. That will be key moving forward and could be quite crucial to any type of case later down the line.”