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Drones help target criminals and locate missing people in Cambridgeshire

29 Jul 2021

Targeting criminals, identifying cannabis factories and locating missing people are just some of the jobs carried out by Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s new mobile eyes in the sky.

The force’s Rural Crime Team invested in three drones last summer which have since been deployed to assist with 225 incidents.

They’ve flown for more than 66 hours helping to catch hare coursers, identify stolen property, gather intelligence and assist with scene preservation.

The drones are fitted with the latest high definition cameras and thermal imaging technology and give officers a mobile eye in the sky meaning they can scan large areas in a very short time.

Eight officers are trained to use the drones which can be legally flown to a maximum height of 400ft (120m), a limit which is set by the CAA so drones do not interfere with aircraft which operate above 1000ft.

Each drone is powered by rechargeable batteries and fully charged they can fly for 30 minutes.

Last summer the team directed an officer on the ground though thick scrubland to a man who had been missing for several hours.

In December last year a group of off roaders were unable to escape the thermal eye and were located behind trees in Aldreth after having driven illegally over farmers’ fields, removing a bridleway gate post.

In March the team were made aware of a stolen caravan in Earith and within an hour located it, along with a stolen trailer in Cottenham.

Most recently they were used to locate a missing 15-year-old girl who they found on the train tracks in Manea.

PC Sam Thompson, from the team, said: “The drones have proven to be an invaluable addition to the force helping to keep the county safe by targeting criminals and locating vulnerable people.

“They are often more accessible than the helicopter and cheaper, saving the force around £500,000 a year.

“We’ve just invested in a new drone which will give us 16 times greater thermal resolution, 32 times zoom and 16 times thermal zoom meaning we’ll be able to catch and locate even more people.”

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