How are drones playing a crucial emergency response role?
- Credit: Archant
Drones are playing an increasingly crucial role in tackling crime and helping to keep people safe in Suffolk, according to police and the fire service.
First launched in 2018, Suffolk Constabulary and Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service now has access to three drones which can be requested by blue light partners.
Suffolk's drones can be used for a variety of incidents, including intelligence gathering missions, taking photographs at crime scenes, collisions, and fires - and monitoring large-scale public events such as the Latitude Festival.
Due to the thermal imaging and scanning capabilities of the drones, they can also assist in the search for vulnerable or missing people.
Station commander Ian Mallett, from the fire service, said drones were particularly helpful during the recent Tolly Cobbold brewery fire in Ipswich.
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He said: "We were able to get aerial views and further understanding of the incident itself. From a fire side of things, it gives us a a different dimension."
MORE: Drone launched in search for missing man in villageThe drones also proved their worth during the long, dry summer of 2018 when firefighters tackled a number of field blazes and fires in the open.
"The summer before last when we had the extended dry period, we were able to get an entire view of the affected area and make sure there were no further hot-spots," Mr Mallett added.
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In terms of police activity, Superintendent Matt Rose said the "very sophisticated" drones are proving very effective in the fight against crime.
He said: "We still have access to a police helicopter when required but in many ways a drone is just as effective as a helicopter.
"It's a long way off from the misconceptions that they are some kind of toy. There are very sophisticated pieces of equipment.
"We will continue to take advantage of advancements in technology to keep people safe."
MORE: Drones used to search for hare coursing suspectsThe drones are funded by the police, the fire service, Suffolk's police and crime commissioner (PCC) and Suffolk County Council.
PCC Tim Passmore said: "I am very proud to see our two blue light services working together on the successful drone project.
"Drone technology provides another useful tool for the Constabulary in their fight against crime and I am very pleased to see the police and partners developing new ways of working together to improve the service we provide to the people of Suffolk.
"This Air Support Unit does not replace the police helicopter but it certainly complements it."