Hemel police to use DRONES for 'major incidents' and missing person searches

Hertfordshire Police have agreed to use a fire service drone for major incidents and searches for vulnerable missing people.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:56 pm

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd and council leader David Williams met on Friday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the use of the drone.

It came hours after the drone helped find a missing high-risk and vulnerable 20-year-old man, who went missing at 2am wearing just shorts and boots.

He was located by the drone metres away from a train track in Hemel Hempstead, suffering from hypothermia and in need of an ambulance.

PCC David Lloyd and chief constable Charlie Hall

Chief fire officer at Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Darryl Keen, said: “The fire service uses a drone to give Incident Commanders an overview of the scene they are attending.

"Having an aerial view of a fire scene can help us gauge the size of the emergency, whether we need more firefighters to support our response, as well as what tactics we should use to tackle the incident.”

Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, said: “This agreement marks another step the close collaboration between Police and Fire and Rescue Services, which will deliver benefits for residents now and for years to come.

“The successful drone operation to find the missing man last night, is the perfect example of how time, resources and ultimately lives can be saved with this new shared technology.”

Credit: Herts Police

There are now plans for the police and fire service to jointly fund a new, state-of-the-art drone.

The new UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) will be able to cover a distance seven times quicker than officers on foot. It can also be used in conditions where it is unsafe for helicopters or crews to go.

Using the drone will be cheaper and quicker than calling in the National Police Air Service helicopter.

Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, David Williams, said: “This new agreement demonstrates yet another way that our fire service and the police are working together more closely."

Credit: Herts Police

The proposed replacement drone will be able to fly in all weathers and stay airborne for longer. It has a one hour flight time, a 50mph top speed and can be deployed in 30 seconds.

Inspector James Lacey, who has led the project for the police, added: “This is a very useful resource to be able to use when there is a threat to life. We have seen the benefits of it already and the new drone will increase our capacity to help.”

Another agreement from the HESC Board was signed at the end of last year to set out procedures for closer working and sharing of resources when looking for high risk missing people.

This includes using HFRS specialist equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, drones, high level platforms, boats and the Service’s command vehicles.