Police in Surrey have the “largest” drone squadron in the UK after being given £250,000 to buy new drones. The Surrey and Sussex Police force has already trained 38 of its members of staff how to fly UAVs and will be expanding its fleet from one to five after being given the funding by the Home Office.
Officers using the drones in the three month trial will include those in Gatwick Airport’s armed response unit, forensic collision investigation and reconstruction, a targeted patrol team, neighbourhood response, and a command search and operations planning unit.
The police force has already been conducting limited trials, with its one existing drone, around Gatwick Airport. The four new Aeryon SkyRangers it purchases will be used by the trained officers.
As the capabilities of drones have increased more public authorities have started to test drones for different applications. Police forces around the UK, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland have been trialling their use of drones. All commercial use of drones is covered by guidelines from the Civil Aviation Authority and organisations must register drones of a certain size with the regulator.
Local councils, as reported by The Telegraph, have started using drones to assess planning applications for building alterations and new buildings. In total 12 councils had either purchased or hired drones and used them for planning, surveying dangerous buildings and monitoring costal erosion.
First responders to emergency incidents across Europe are also set to start using drones to help with their work. The European Emergency Number Association has said that mountain rescue teams in Ireland and firefighters in Holland will be given DJI drones to help respond to incidents. Meanwhile in Malawi, Unicef is trialling the use of drones to speed up the process of diagnosing HIV.