A British police force is to launch its first 24-hour drone unit.
As concerns deepen about the lack of ‘bobbies on the beat’ around the UK, Devon and Cornwall Police will set up its dedicated drone unit this summer. It is anticipated that the drones will be deployed to pursue suspects, find missing people and even to help solve murders.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, national spokesman on drones, said more and more of Britain’s 43 police forces will also start using drones in the near future because they are cheaper than helicopters and can also perform some of beat officers’ duties.
Police drones already in use cost £999 each (about $1,250), have a flight time of about 20 minutes and can reach an altitude of 400ft. They have a maximum speed of 43.5mph and weigh 4lb. Their on-board camera sends pictures to a remote control which displays video and flight information.
Twenty-one UK police forces are understood to be experimenting with the new technology already.
Mr Barry told the Daily Mail: “I would not be at all surprised if other forces follow in due course – the question is not whether they will, it’s when.”
However, the idea has already been lambasted by those who support traditional policing methods. Former Scotland Yard officer Rory Geoghegan, of the Centre for Public Safety, said it would be a “nightmare scenario” if drones were sent to investigate crimes such as burglary.
The Mail itself also pointed out that “the State-funded eye in the sky snooping on our every move is the stuff of Orwellian nightmares.”