The drone team at Lincolnshire Police thinks unmanned aircraft could take over the use of traditional helicopters in some police missions.
Project lead within the force, Sgt Ed Delderfield, thinks the progressive nature of the team in Lincolnshire has helped them integrate drones into policing quickly and effectively, something which the community is already seeing a benefit form.
Delderfield explained: “Drones provide a more flexible and cost-effective air asset compared with the NPAS helicopter alternative. As technology and legislation advances, I can see unmanned aircraft taking over.”
He added: “In Lincolnshire, we are very lucky to have a chief officer team, from the chief constable down, which is overwhelming supportive of drone use. We are also championed by our police and crime commissioner Mr Marc Jones. The main barrier is cost and budget. Policing faces significant financial pressures and funding the latest aircraft and camera payloads is a real challenge despite the operation and efficiency benefits they bring.”
Already in the past 12 months the drone team at Lincolnshire Police has been in the headlines for all of the right reasons.
Stories on how they were able to use one of their DJI drones to locate a stranded rape victim and catch deer hunters were all well received, but Delderfield recalls the way in which the drone saved a life as its biggest triumph so far.
He elaborated: “Our biggest success was saving a man’s life in February 2018. Following a traffic collision, the victim staggered from his car and fell into a water-filled ditch six feet deep. It was 2am and sub-zero temperatures. The ditch and surrounding area had been searched by officers with torches and firefighters with handheld thermal cameras. Only when the thermal camera-equipped drone arrived on scene was the victim’s faint heat signature seen. Officers were guided in and rescued him — he was hypothermic and unconscious.”
Delderfield and his colleagues are able to operate effectively as they run an in-house drone team which allows them to deploy at any moment.
Read more on how the force caught deer hunters in the act here: