UK’s National Police Air Service (NPAS) has carried out initial evaluation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology using a Elbit Systems Hermes 900 remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).
The evaluation came as the police service is seeking to explore how drone technology might be used to deliver public safety in support of the police forces of England and Wales in future.
With police input and joint funding from the UK Home Office and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the trial included a series of simulated typical police aviation scenarios currently fulfilled by the existing national fleet of helicopters and airplanes in support of the 43 police forces of England and Wales and British Transport Police (BTP).
Seeking to determine whether the capabilities of this technology can be put to use to serve the unique national requirements of UK policing, NPAS made use of the Elbit Systems Hermes 900 as part of a wider trial organized by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
With the trial at West Wales Airport near Aberporth now complete, a report will follow which will provide a detailed assessment of the capabilities offered by this class of UAV and its fit to national policing requirements.
“Our police confront danger to protect us and they deserve the best tools and the best technology. These trials may point to a new and more effective way for the police’s air service to do its vital job – finding missing people and bearing down on crime,” said Kit Malthouse, the Minister of State for Crime and Policing at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.
“Meeting the diverse needs of the police forces of England and Wales requires both flexibility and versatility. With continuous advances in UAV capabilities, UK policing is rightly seeking to explore the viability of platforms such as these for possible future use in delivering police air support nationally,” said Captain Ollie Dismore, NPAS Director of Flight Operations.
“Currently serviced by our national mixed fleet of helicopters and aeroplanes, police forces require us to embrace innovation and make use of advancing technology, including seizing opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint. This will allow us to continue to make the best use of resources into the future and best ensure public safety. If this technology enables us to fulfil our national remit more efficiently and either as or more effectively than with our current assets, then it will be considered as part of a future national police air service fleet,” he added.