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Kent Police drones helped officers locate 16 missing persons and 28 alleged offenders in 2022.
A recent report from the force evaluated the increased use of drones and assessed how they were being used to improve investigations across many force departments and public protection.
Officers used the technology more than 600 times during the course of the year, up 48 per cent on 2021, to help them safeguard people across the county.
Some of the missing persons that officers located required urgent medical treatment and it was vitally important they were found quickly.
On the night of Friday 25 March 2022, two offenders attempted to hide in a wooded area at the bottom of a steep bank near the railway tracks in Sittingbourne. Even with torches, officers could not see the suspects until they were within touching distance of them.
However, the drone‘s thermal imaging capabilities overhead meant the suspects were easy to spot, which enabled officers to arrest them.
In mid-August last year, a drone helped detectives locate someone in distress, who required urgent medical treatment. Without the drone’s support and thermal imaging, officers would not have found the woman as swiftly as they did.
Increasingly, drones have been used in helping officers tackle more high-profile crimes including seven murder inquiries during 2022.
Footage from drones was stitched together with CCTV, dashcams, video doorbells, mobile phones, and 3D Scanning footage, to create a more complete picture of events that led to major breakthroughs in investigations.
Chief Superintendent Simon Alland, said:
‘Drones have proven to be a force for good and are invaluable tools at our disposal. Their implementation has improved our ability to locate suspects and missing persons, and our speed in doing so. Drones have also afforded us access to a perspective and footage that could increase the likelihood of solving crimes.‘The inclusion of drones into future operations will allow us to provide better support to officers on the ground, through increased situational awareness and improved decision-making.’