Drones could be used by police to fight terror attacks

Aeryon Skyranger drone
Aeryon Skyranger drone

Drone technology could be used to respond to terror attacks, support armed operations and assist searches for suspects under a trial launched by Scotland Yard.

Britain's largest police force has begun testing how an unmanned aerial vehicle could help across a range of activities.

During the eight-week trial the device, loaned to the Met by Sussex Police, will be available to officers dealing with incidents where air support may be useful.

This could include searches for high-risk missing people or suspects, serious traffic collisions, weapon sweeps and identification of cannabis factories.

The device will be on hand to give aerial support for pre-planned and spontaneous firearms operations, raising the prospect that the technology could be deployed as part of the response to a terrorist incident.

It will also provide live footage of operational deployments to assist commanders' decision making.

While the drone's primary purpose is similar to that of the police helicopters, the Met said it has a "distinct advantage" in its small size and ability to cope with a wider variety of incidents.

The drone can operate in adverse weather conditions as well as indoor areas, and can send footage and images back to officers at the scene in real-time.

Commander Simon Bray said: "UAVs are already being used by police forces across the UK; the MPS currently owns one for examining crime scenes.

"We are committed to working with technology that can assist our officers with the wide range of often difficult and dangerous incidents they deal with on a daily basis.

"Today we are starting an eight-week trial of the drone, which we hope will assist officers with both day-to-day policing and complex pre-planned operations."

A comprehensive analysis of the trial will take place at the end of the eight-week trial period.

Drones are increasingly being deployed by police services around the country.

Earlier this year two forces became the first in the UK to launch a fully operational drone unit.

Devon and Cornwall and Dorset announced the move in July after trialling the technology since November 2015.