Police services in England and Wales are increasingly investing in UAVs because the cost of keeping helicopters in the air is climbing rapidly.
A report published last week assessing the viability of drones across police forces has revealed that keeping a police helicopter aloft for one hour costs £2,820 – double what it cost in 2009.
Surrey and Sussex Police have already bought five UAVs at a cost of £300,000 while Durham Constabulary recently bought a £1,450 drone.
28 of the 43 forces in England and Wales have either purchased at least one drone or have one ready access.
The chairman of the National Police Air Service (NPAS), Mark Burns-Williamson, has said that police now need to explore “how drones can impact on the wider service”.
But the report highlighted challenges for police services looking at the application of drones. It said that officers from almost every force commented on the lack of readily available guidance on the procurement and use of drones.
“For example, some forces had not taken out any additional insurance, while one force had paid £4,500 to insure two drones, and another force operating very similar drones had paid £1,400 to insure five of them.”
It added that cost is only one factor to consider when choosing between different types of air support for any given task.
“For example, the sensors that can be carried by small drones are considerably less capable than those that can be carried by a helicopter.”
The full report can be accessed HERE.