Thames Valley Police launch drone pilot

Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said:

"The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner welcomes today's announcement by Thames Valley's Joint Operations Unit. 

This marks the next step in the use of technology of tackling crime across Thames Valley.  As well as improving responses to major incidents, we hope this pilot scheme highlights an improved way in responding to cases involving missing persons.  The PCC and I will be monitoring progress on this pilot scheme closely and look forward to seeing it have a positive impact on cases across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

I am pleased that Thames Valley Police are committed to the use of technology in protecting the public and look forward to seeing the pilot scheme being rolled out in the coming weeks."

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The Joint Operations Unit of Thames Valley Police (TVP) and Hampshire Constabulary are to roll out a pilot to test the capability of drones in policing in the two force areas.

A proof of concept trial will see drones being used across the Thames Valley and Hampshire, utilising them in a number of reactive and pre-planned situations.

Each force will have three drones at their disposal during the trial, and 34 drone operators have been trained across TVP and Hampshire. Another drone has been purchased for training purposes.

The drones can be used in a variety of incidents such as searching for missing people, responding to major incidents, capturing aerial crime scene imagery, at road traffic collisions, large public events and other policing operations.

The drones are made by Yuneec and are a six engine model with high definition, optical and thermal imaging cameras and flown up to a maximum height of 400 feet (CAA Regulations).

Members of the public will see the use of drones from mid-August when the pilot scheme goes operational for both Forces.

Assistant Chief Constable David Hardcastle, responsible for operation across Thames Valley and Hampshire, said: “We are launching a proof of concept to look at the effectiveness of using drones as an operational tactic for officers in the two forces.

“We will look at how drones can assist in a variety of overt policing situations with a view to rolling out the use of drones in both forces permanently, should the pilot be a success.

“This is an exciting opportunity for both Forces, which will mean officers can get an aerial view of large areas in a short periods of time, so their use should really assist with finding offenders suspected of crime or disorder and, missing people in large open expanses or wooded areas, providing live feeds for officers at major incidents or football games and protests and many other applications.

“Both Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary are committed to using technology to fight crime and make the public safer and hopefully the use of drones will be another tool available to do this.”