POLICE drones have been used for over 1,500 jobs this year alone and could be used more by Thames Valley Police.

Drones are a specialist capability within JOU Specialist Search Unit, utilising trained officers from several different teams.

There are 50 drones in operation across the JOU and 130 pilots trained.

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Bracknell News: Thames Valley Police dronesThames Valley Police drones (Image: NQ)

They can operate day and night and during moderate winds and rain. They can also operate in fog providing the pilot can maintain visual sight of the drone.

Since being trialled in 2019, drones have demonstrated capabilities to locate missing people and suspects, provide aerial containments during warrants or situational overviews for public order deployments and have identified a number of cannabis factories.

Police Inspector Guy Summers said drones have been used at over 1,500 jobs across the Thames Valley area this year including at the Henley Regatta, Reading Festival, Royal Ascot, football games, and more.

The DJI M300 Drone is the one used for these events and can fly for 40 minutes.

Bracknell News: DJI M300 DroneDJI M300 Drone (Image: NQ)

It has been used to catch offenders, including one incident on the A34 where a car was being chased and crashed.

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The drone later found the offender hiding under a bush in a back garden.

Inspector Summers said: “It’s really useful. It’s a joint approach to using the helicopter and the drone together - they need to complement each other to safeguard the public.

“But if a helicopter is in Benson, where they are deployed from, and the incident is in Milton Keynes it’s useful to send a drone to the scene quickly.

“It will give officers more awareness of what is happening and decisions can be made earlier – the better chance we have at protecting vulnerable people.”

When asked if people should expect to see more drones in the future, Inspector Summers said they will only be used when needed by the force.

“People should not fear the drone,” he said. “People who fear the drones as the ones we’re looking for anyway.”

Drones can also be used to create 3D mapping of crime scenes which are hoped to be used in criminal trials.

Bracknell News: Police Inspector Guy SummersPolice Inspector Guy Summers (Image: Newsquest)

“The jury can become immersed,” he said. “The crime scene will be brought to them.”

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The equipment can also be used for missing person searches and collision investigations. Inspector Summers said if a collision can be mapped quickly by a drone, it could help prevent traffic delays.

When asked if drones would replace the job of officers, Inspector Summers concluded: “Drones are very intelligent…but can it understand the complexity of a victim’s needs? No, that’s an officer's job.”