Wiltshire Police uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, to provide air support to officers on the ground.

Drones are becoming more common in policing but they will not replace the police helicopter which is provided by the National Police Air Service (NPAS).

Type of drones

We have eighteen drones that are all DJI product and range from the Matrice to the Mavik.

They can be equipped with a HD camera or a thermal imaging camera.

Our drones have between 18 and 30 minute flight time per battery.

They have a top speed of 49mph and can fly in wind speeds up to 22mph.

Reasons for use

They are typically used for:
  • searching large open areas for missing people or offenders hiding from us
  • aerial photography of crime scenes and road traffic collisions
  • over-watch for high risk policing operations on the ground.

Benefits of drone use

  • It's much cheaper to charge a drone battery than to fuel a helicopter.
  • As its much cheaper we can use air support more often meaning officers on the ground can have an eye in the sky for more incidents, rather than just the really serious ones.
  • As it's electric the drone's carbon footprint is smaller than a helicopter.
  • It's much safer, with no crew or aviation fuel.

Drone pilots

We currently have twenty pilots from operational poicing backgrounds.

We also have one full-time drone trainer.

Our team were trained by a commercial National Qualified Entity (NQE) and awarded their Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

All our pilot training and operations comply with CAA guidance in CAP 722

All our air operations comply with CAA regulations.

We have our own training programme which is CAA compliant.

Filming from drones

We will only every use our drone to support a lawful policing purpose, or for commercial purposes relating to Wiltshire Police.

The vast majority of recording takes place overtly with an obvious police presence on the ground.

We're not always recording, most of the time we are merely using the camera to assist us from the sky.

We make every effort to remove or reduce the chances of recording you.

Recordings are stored and deleted in line with requirements of the Data Protection Act.

Drones and the law

The Air Navigation Order is the principle legislation that deals with drones, current EU legislation and articles 240 and 241.

Wiltshire Police are approved by the CAA to fly drones commercially and have operational authorisation as well as some additional legal exemptions for emergency services.

Using a drone yourself

If you are interested in using drones, check the Drone Safe website for advice.