Is it a Liverbird? Is it a plane? Think again!

By Paige Freshwater

Merseyside’s Police and Fire and Rescue service are considering buying a drone to help tackle fires and trace criminal activity.

The Merseyside Police force sunk their £13,000 trail drone in the River Mersey in 2011, but successfully made the UK’s first arrest using the technology a year prior.

It was reported that the police force lost control of the craft when it suddenly lost battery power during a “routine training exercise”.

drone-in-flight-1
Aerial drone in flight (C) Creative Commons CCo

Former Merseyside police officer, Ian Whitfield, told The Burble: “You can get pretty good cameras on drones now so it is good evidence to show a jury or to show a court at a later stage, or even for the investigating team.

“If you have got a murder conducted in open territory it gives you the option to hover above.

“In addition to use outside, drones are now so precise they can be used indoors as well.”

The two emergency services are considering the benefits and drawbacks a shared aerial drone could bring to the city.

He added: “Whenever there is a new emerging technology it doesn’t take long for criminals to think how do we apply this.

“So of course the concern is that criminals could be walking down the street with a drone and then they can look at the back of houses to see what is secure and see if they can get in and then use it as an aid to burglary.

“Some of the technology they are starting to look at now is the way you can hijack or hack a drone, because they are controlled electronically.

“There is now software developed that if a drone is being used by a person who you suspect is causing a problem then there is a method to hack into that drone and take control of it.”

In 2015, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescues Service become the first force in the UK to use drone support around the clock, but plans to implement them in Liverpool are “only in the early discussion stages at the moment”.

A spokesperson from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, told The Burble: “If we did get one they would be used to give an aerial view of the incident ground at major fires, which would be invaluable to incident commanders in formulating a plan of how to sectorise and tackle the fire.

“Some drones also have thermal imaging capabilities which would be helpful in pinpointing areas of heat within a building.

“Gas monitors and sensors can also be carried on them, which would be helpful in chemical incidents.

“We could also use them in training exercises to record and review techniques, to help us hone our approach to incidents.

“This plan is only being considered at the moment and no firm plans are in place.”

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