Policing from the skies: The new drones taking flight to help keep us safe

Two large drones bought by Thames Valley and Hampshire Police have been used around 100 times in their first three months.

They are the latest addition to the two forces’ drone collection and are larger and more sophisticated than earlier models.

The drones are fitted with spotlights and thermal imaging cameras, and are designed to be able to fly in bad weather.

They can cope with heavy rain and winds of up to 40mph and are used for large, planned events like football matches.

Sgt Andy Sparshott, Thames Valley & Hampshire Police Drone Unit says: "It gives us the capability to search from the air, day or night, with a thermal imaging camera so if we're having to look into woods or areas where there are trees."

The new larger drones join an existing fleet of smaller drones and are used alongside other police air support resources including the police helicopter.

Sgt Andy Sparshott says: "We also have the ability to livestream the footage to officers at the scene and commanders who are remotely monitoring the incident."

Police drone operators can fly them in in bad weather, including heavy rain and 40mph winds

The Hampshire and Thames Valley Drone Unit say the purpose of the craft is for public safety and operators are trained to only look in areas linked to a specific incident or event.

  • Sgt Andy Sparshott, Thames Valley & Hampshire Police Drone Unit:

While the new generation of drones are being put to good use, police forces are already looking to the future.

That could see even bigger changes in how policing uses technology, with much larger drones being developed.

"The future is larger drones actually carrying people and that technology is being trialled at the moment", says Sgt Sparshott.

So the skies could look very different in the next decade or so.