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New pilots join police drone team

Four new pilots have been selected to join Nottinghamshire Police’s drones unit.

The team, a resource shared with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, was launched at the start of the year and has quickly established itself as one of the most effective in the UK.

With a fleet of three drones and 17 trained pilots the team allows for round-the-clock, pre-planned and reactive aerial deployments in every part of the county.

Since the first drone took to the skies at the start of the year the team have helped to locate 12 high risk missing people and supported in the arrest of 51 criminal suspects.

It is also on hand to support colleagues at the fire service, giving them vital information about the spread and scale of an incident, and its impact on the surrounding area. The team also assists with fire investigation and supports firefighter safety.

In recent months it has helped to locate a vulnerable missing woman in dense woodland, and found a suspect hiding in undergrowth near a busy train line.

Drone pilots are serving police officers who volunteer for to take on this additional role. Ten of the officers out of the 17 provide a 24/7 drone response capability anywhere in the county to spontaneous incidents. The remaining pilots make-up a pre-planned team that takes on planned taskings from both the police and fire service.

Each new pilot must undergo a rigorous programme of safety, technical and situational training before they are allowed to fly the drones.

PC Kev Parsons, a neighbourhood policing officer based in Mansfield, is one of the new pilots.

He explained: “I love technology and also have my own drone at home, so this was really a perfect opportunity for me and I’m really excited about the future.

“The drones are great fun to fly but above all they are a really valuable policing tool that help us catch criminals, save lives and keep the public safe.”

PC Vince Saunders, Chief Drone Pilot for Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Police forces have been using helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to fight crime and keep people safe for a very long time, but clearly it isn’t always possible or even desirable to call these out.

“Drones give us a readily available and relatively cheap alternative option in all kinds of different situations – giving officers on the ground a vital three dimensional view of any situation of a crime scene.

“We are already looking at getting a better, more advanced and weatherproofed drone, and we are also learning all the time how to make best use of this resource. Our new recruits are joining the team at a very exciting time for the team and will contribute even further to our success.”

Area Manager Bryn Coleman, from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “The procurement and effective operation of a joint drone resource has been an important step in the on-going collaboration between the police and fire service in Nottinghamshire.

“It has given us improved resilience and operational capability, as well as an even greater understanding of our roles and interdependencies at incidents. Since its launch it has proved extremely effective, and we welcome the addition of the new pilots to the team. ”

Nottinghamshire Live – Local News