A conservative MP has insisted that commercial drones will not replace patrolling police officers in the UK, despite more forces investing in unmanned technology.
During a parliamentary debate surrounding police funding, South Dorset MP Richard Drax argued that a physical police presence is required within the UK.
The MP said that, while UAVs are, and will continue to, provide vital support to policing authorities, they will not substitute the need for officers on the streets.
According to the Dorset Echo, he said: “We are seeing fewer officers on the beat. We have frontline officers but they’re not on the beat, they’re behind a computer. The work they are doing is all very admirable, all very necessary but it’s to the detriment of a very valuable asset.
“We shouldn’t take our eyes off the ball; officers on the beat are as valuable as officers handling complex crimes. Even in today’s world with all the technology, nothing beats the officer on the beat. The intelligence they get from the public, the reassurance they give, you don’t get that from a drone.”
The statement comes as more police forces in the UK are investing in unmanned aerial technology.
Last month it was announced that both Welsh and Scottish police forces would be investing in UAVs.
Police Scotland is planning to trial the use of two drones, one is to be based in Inverness and the other in Aberdeen and would be used in different operations, including searches for missing people, according to the BBC.
In Wales, 15 officers and staff have been trained to use UAVs to capture video and images to be used in investigations.