Police to use drones to spot lawbreakers and enforce UK coronavirus lockdown
Police are set to use drones to spy on coronavirus lawbreakers and enforce the lockdown.
Northamptonshire Police says it will use eight drones to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The flying machines are set to use them to link to speakers to instruct people to go indoors if they are breaking the law.
They will be controlled by trained officers on the ground.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered people only to leave their homes under a list of “very limited purposes” night including for food shopping and exercise.
He also ordered the immediate closure of shops selling non-essential goods.
As part of the Coronavirus Bill – which passed through the House of Commons on Monday – police were given new emergency powers to help them guarantee public safety and maintain law and order.
The new approach will give officers across the country better and speedier access to the latest technology, police say.
It would also ensure a rapid deployment when needed that will ultimately have a significant impact on the response to serious incidents.
Inspector Mark Holland, who is leading the scheme for Northamptonshire Police, said: “Day in, day out, response officers are first on the scene of all kinds of serious incidents,” he said.
“Giving them better access to drones means that they are able to quickly take control and respond to save lives and fight crime in the best way.”
Northamptonshire Police have already purchased two drones as part of a ten-month trial to make the technology more available to response teams.
Eight officers have already learned how to pilot the two new drones and associated equipment, including thermal imaging binoculars, at a cost of £35,000.
But six further are now expected to be purchased at a further cost of £100,000.
Nick Adderley, chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, added: “My ask is that we purchase a further six drones and what we could do is use them to put out public information messages.
“What is becoming really clear is that the public appetite for information is insatiable and this would be a good and cost effective way to do it.
“If supermarkets ask for assistance from the police to make sure public order is maintained, then we will provide that.
“We cannot have a situation where the vulnerable are unable to get food.
“What I’m hearing from the distributors is there is plenty of stock out there so people do not need to stockpile.
“We don’t want police officers rolling on the floor with pensioners who will not go home.”