Call for police to use drones

A Donington farmer would like to see Lincolnshire Police using drones in the fight against crime, including hare coursing.

Several forces are trialling airborne camera drones, using them in searches for missing people and ‘scene captures’ of serious incidents.

Farmer Chris Wray, chairman of Holland County NFU, is licensed to fly drones and uses them to check crop growth because they can reveal bare patches that can’t be seen from the roadside.

Mr Wray believes if police had a couple of vehicles equipped with drones it would send a very powerful message to hare coursers even if police captured only one in 10 incidents on video.

“It would only have to happen once or twice before word got out in the hare coursing community,” he said. “It’s the right publicity to put out.”

But he says farmers should not put their personal safety at risk by attempting to use drones to video hare coursers.

He said: “Hare coursing is a very inflammatory situation – it’s the same if you get a camera out or anything like that.”

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police told The Standard that its six month trial has gone well with drones successfully used in operations like searches for missing people and scene captures for major road traffic accidents and serious crimes, including murder.

Two drones and associated costs, including training, had cost £11,000 but that money was effectively recovered after two or three uses where the force avoided the need to launch a helicopter.

Chief Insp Jim Tyner, Lincolnshire Police’s lead officer on rural crime, said: “I have seen some good use of drones by other police forces, particularly around searching large rural areas for vulnerable missing people.

“We have no plans at present to introduce drones in Lincolnshire Police.

“While I can see the benefit of drones for pre-planned policing operations I am less certain of their effectiveness for responding to incidents, such as hare coursing, in real time.

“In such a large county how would we ensure that the drones and operators are in the right place at the right time?

“I am in conversation with other rural forces to see how they deploy their drones and if they can demonstrate their effectiveness in tackling rural crime it is something I would support.”

Merseyside Police was the first to make an arrest in an operation using a drone in 2010.