Met to become first UK force to deploy drone to monitor road users

UAV will focus on road users engaged in dangerous driving such as racing, say police.

An Aeryon Skyranger drone
 An Aeryon Skyranger drone that the Met trialled in 2017. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA

The Metropolitan police will become the first British force to deploy a drone to monitor road users later this month.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will focus on road users engaged in dangerous driving, such as racing, that could potentially put others at risk, rather than targeting all speeding motorists, according to the Met.

Once a suspect has been spotted, information will be relayed from the drone to officers further along the road so they can pull them over.

Police are keen to point out that the drone’s remit will be as much about deterrence as catching lawbreakers. The Met would not say whether more UAVs would be brought into service if the first proved to be a success, citing operational security.

Det Supt Andy Cox, the head of the Met’s roads and traffic policing unit, said: “This is one of many enforcement tactics being used. Its aim is to deter dangerous driving and we hope the message of ‘drive lawfully, stay safe and keep a clean licence’ is widely understood.

“However, deterrence is sometimes best achieved through intense enforcement and that’s what this capability enables.”

The drone has a night vision function and will be able to operate at both high and low altitudes.

Cox said: “The focus will be on dangerous drivers who are racing and those putting their lives and other people’s at risk.”

More than 60 people have been killed on London roads in 2019, with eight deaths in a five-day period last week. Cox is the Met’s lead on Sadiq Khan’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate all deaths on the the capital’s roads by 2041.

In France, police have been using drones since 2017 to catch vehicles driving dangerously, such as trucks that are tailgating other vehicles or motorists who illegally overtake. Police in Bordeaux catch up to 20 vehicles an hour, issuing them with on-the-spot fines.

8th July 2019

The Guardian