News Item

Police lose their UAV

It has just been revealed that Merseyside Police lost their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) irretrievably last year.

Police lost control of the £13,000 UAV while operating it from Aigburth - near Liverpool Cricket Club - on a 'routine training exercise'; it fell into the River Mersey.

The drone is reported to have been high above Aigburth - 500 yards from the river - when it lost battery power. The operators tried to perform a safety landing in adverse weather, but the UAV - which was a long distance from the crew - crashed into the Mersey.

A search was carried out, but the helicopter-style drone was given up as lost.

The force was compensated by insurers for its £13,000 value, but senior officers decided against replacing the UAV - introduced 4 years ago - due to the financial climate.

A police spokesman explained 'Initially the force identified the potential benefits of a UAV within operational policing. But during its use officers recognised certain technical and operational issues, including staff training costs and the inability to use it in all weather conditions. The use of the UAV by officers requires a considerable amount of training, skill and practice - officers cannot operate the UAV without first completing an intensive training course.'

Merseyside was the first force in the UK to use a UAV to carry TV and thermal cameras to monitor possible trouble hotspots such as large-scale events and traffic congestion, and help the likes of firearm operations.

And it has recorded some success, helping to locate a suspected car thief following a police chase and finding a man hiding by a canal in thick fog.

But it also fell foul of the law and was grounded when the CAA discovered that it did not have an appropriate licence. But the licence was subsequently granted.

There are now no police forces using UAVs - it seems that more autonomy will be required before they become widely used outside the military.

Details from The Telegraph below.

  • 02 November 2011
  • CMAG

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