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Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

What are drones/UAVs?

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. The term UAV covers a wide range of systems from the small children’s toy to large military systems. UAVs are most often referred to as drones and this is how the police service refer to them.

What drones do Sussex and Surrey Police have?

Our drones are small battery-powered rotor systems. Commonly known as quadcopters, they are powered by four electric motors. They take off and land vertically like helicopters.

We have five Aeryon SkyRangers which weigh 2.6 kg including the battery and camera. They can operate in all weather conditions and in winds of up to 65 kilometres per hour.

How much did they cost?

All our drones were purchased using external funding grants. They cost £64,000 each including the cameras.

How many drone operators do Surrey and Sussex Police have?

We currently have 40 operators.

What cameras do they carry?

The systems have the option of carrying the following cameras:
• Dual daylight/thermal camera (4 x digital zoom)
• Daylight HD camera (4 x digital zoom)
• Daylight HD camera (30 x Optical Zoom)

What do we use drones for?

We are using drones to:
• Assist with searches for missing people
• Assist with investigations into road traffic collisions, major crime incidents and Industrial Accident investigations.
• Assist with event planning and management
• Provide situational awareness to officers and Commanders in a variety of policing situations.

Sussex and Surrey Police drones are only deployed for specific operational tasks and are not used for general patrol/surveillance. They are not patrolling the skies on a daily basis.

How do we think drones will help deliver a policing service?

Using drones will help us:
• Use our resources more effectively by having the right resources in the right place at the right time to resolve incidents quickly.
• Enhance the safety of the public and police by deploying a drone into situations which would otherwise involve risks to individuals.
• Provide good quality evidence to assist apprehension and prosecution of offenders.
• Enhance joint working with other Emergency Services.

Do the police have to comply with existing regulation and legislation?

Yes. The Emergency Services need to work within the existing legislation and regulation in respect of drone use. We operate in accordance with our permission granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). All our operators have passed a CAA accredited training course and are qualified remote pilots. We are fully insured.

What about privacy and Data Protection?

We have liaised closely with the Information and Surveillance Commissioners offices and worked with them in developing specific Privacy Impact Assessments for police use of drones and a self-assessment document to test compliance against the CCTV codes of practice.

The Surveillance Commissioner has visited Sussex and viewed a drone being operated, declaring confidence in how police are using drones.

We have used the same processes for storing images taken by drones as we do for our Body Worn Video cameras.

Read the Privacy Impact Assessment