London’s Metropolitan Police is set to become the first UK police force to use a drone to monitor road users.
Rather than reporting on congestion or accidents, the drone will be used to spot dangerous drivers, in particular those who are speeding or racing on London’s roads.
DS Andy Cox, the head of the Met’s roads and traffic policing unit and the Met’s lead on Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate all deaths on the capital’s roads by 2041, sees the move both as an active measure and an effective deterrent.
“This is one of many enforcement tactics being used. Its aim is to deter dangerous driving and we hope the message of ‘drive lawfully, stay safe and keep a clean licence’ is widely understood,” he said.
“However, deterrence is sometimes best achieved through intense enforcement and that’s what this capability enables.”
According to a Guardian report, the new police drone will have thermal imaging unit and operate at night. Cox said: “The focus will be on dangerous drivers who are racing and those putting their lives and other people’s at risk.”
UK emergency services embracing drone technology
Today’s news from the Met is the latest in a series of UK first responders and public safety teams adopting drone technology.
Last year, UK police used drones and thermal imaging to prevent illegal deer poaching. Drones were also used by fire crews during the Grenfell Tower blaze.
This April, drones were used by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service to gather intel on a wildfire and establish its extent before committing firefighters to the scene.
The European Emergency Number Association (EENA) is currently working with DJI on real-world emergency service drone tests in an effort to develop European-wide emergency service standards for using drones, training pilots, and operating within a legal framework.
The Donegal Mountain Rescue Team in Ireland and the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service in the UK are serving as testing grounds for the technology, with operations including firefighting and search and rescue scenarios across cities, mountains, coastal waters and more.