Police across Devon and Cornwall are set to introduce a 24-hour drone unit and the force is currently advertising for a ‘drone manager’. The drones will largely be used for surveillance of crime scenes and to help in the search for missing people, and it will be the first 24-hour drone unit in the UK, operating out of nine police stations.
Police forces across the globe have been experimenting with drones for years, treading an uneasy balance between making the best of a useful technology and terrifying a privacy-protecting public tired of state intrusions.
Devon and Cornwall Police covers more ground than any other police force in England, an area spanning 180 miles. “To give some impression of the scale of the area, police headquarters in Exeter is actually nearer to London than the furthest extremity of the Force,” the force explains.
The coastal terrain can be hazardous for police to cover during missing persons cases, so it makes sense for drones to be deployed here. It's also not the first time the force has experimented with the technology. Since 2015, drone trials have been used in missing persons cases, helped track down an escaped lynx from Dartmoor Zoo, and monitored road accidents.