Waterloo, Ontario’s Aeryon Labs has sold four more SkyRanger drones to Surrey and Sussex Police in England, who have received £250,000 granted from the Home Office through the Police Innovation Fund to make the purchase, making theirs the largest use of drones for police work in the U.K.
The police forces will conduct a trial deploying the five drones on the following teams: at Eastbourne Neighbourhood Response Team, Guildford Targeted Patrol Team, Gatwick Armed Response Vehicles, Shoreham Forensic Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Unit, and Lewes Operations Command Search and Operations Planning.
“Our project, operating five drones, is by far the largest in the UK, and there are a number of forces around the country that are commencing drone trials and the information from their trials will be incorporated into our report,” said head of Surrey and Sussex Police Operations, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry.
The Surrey and Sussex Police force had already been using one Aeryon SkyRanger to conduct tests around Gatwick Airport beginning in March 2014.
“The OSC recently saw the Gatwick drone being operated and was impressed with our operational protocols,” said Assistant Chief Constable Barry. “Our drone operations will be overt, open and transparent, and we will use all outlets available to us to ensure the public are informed of our drone use.”
Following the trial at Gatwick Airport, the police force is satisfied that the use of drones for police work is in compliance with privacy and safety concerns, while primarily being used to help with collision investigation reconstruction, neighborhood response, command search and operations planning.
“We have consulted extensively with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (OSC), both of whom are satisfied with the approach we have taken over privacy and data protection,” said Barry. “Finally, I must stress drones are not a replacement for the NPAS police helicopter; they are complementary to it.”