Welsh Police Are Using Drones to Fight Crime

North Wales emergency services realize drones aren't just affordable, but aid investigations and analyses of emergency situations.

The North Wales police, otherwise known as the Heddlu Gogledd Cymru which translates into “North Wales Keeper of Peace,” recently began implementing the unmanned aerial vehicle in their fight against crime. According to the BBC, there are now fifteen officers and staff members that are trained and capable of piloting drones to take photos and videos for official investigations. The use-cases here range vastly, from finding a missing person to investigating traffic discrepancies and analyzing major fires for possible foul play. Most recently, the Gateway to Wales Hotel fire in Deeside, North Wales was investigated as such with the help of a drone. 

We’ve reported on the use of drones in both the firefighting and law enforcement arenas in the past, which have informed us of a few key facts: Thermal imaging and bird’s-eye vantage points are a massive advantage to those about to enter a potentially hazardous area, and recording high-quality footage can majorly aid a post-event assessment to make future approaches more effective or successful. According to the BBC, the North Wales police is possession of two drones (both fitted with thermal imaging cameras) which have already proven their worth by searching for missing persons and investigations in 2017. Reportedly, Inspector Craig Jones of the operational planning unit praised the ability to rapidly and safely collect imagery in areas otherwise hard to reach, thereby aiding officers and their investigations significantly. 

During the Gateway to Wales Hotel fire, for example, officers used these drones to assess which areas of the hotel were the hottest, thereby understanding how best to approach the situation and which areas were a priority over others. Take a look below at the two images and compare how significantly more useful a thermal image can be looking for useful data such as temperature. Stuart Millington of the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, for example, called this visual advantage a “significantly useful tool” in resolving future incidents.

An aerial photograph of the Gateway to Wales Hotel fire in Deeside., North Wales Police
An aerial thermal image of the Gateway to Wales Hotel fire in Deeside., North Wales Police

According to the BBC, there’s an agreement between the local police and firefighting departments, which assures cooperation between the two whenever a trained drone pilot would come in handy to assess a dangerous blaze or another emergency. Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard goes as far as stating that the use of UAVs significantly cuts costs in fighting crime and improving the welfare of local communities, which is a pretty telling statement from someone in the upper echelons of a police department. This is a tool that is not only cost-effective but dramatically improves the state of things in our communities. In his own words, he explained that “Being able to launch a drone in the air in a few minutes could help save lives and secure vital evidence if a crime was in progress.”