West Midands Police's £19k drones 'can't fly in the rain'

Officer tells of anger over hi-tech kit they claim has 'achieved nothing'

 

Spy-in-the-sky drones used by West Midlands Police have been dubbed a waste of cash by bobbies on the street.

 

And they believe the £19,000 paid for the high-tech machines should have been spent on recruiting a new officer for the West Midlands force.

One officer broke ranks to reveal the ill-feeling generated by the introduction of drones in July.

Not one arrest has been made through drones and the officer alleged they could not be used at night or in the rain.

 

“With the weather we get, that makes them pretty useless,” said the senior officer, who asked not to be named.

“They’ve achieved nothing.

“They’re supposed to be for surveillance, doing what the force helicopters do, but £19,000 would pay for a probationary officer.

“We feel that would have been money better spent.”

 

Information about police use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – drones and mini choppers – is limited on security grounds.

 

A force spokesman explained: “Any information identifying the focus of policing activity could be used to the advantage of terrorists or criminal organisations.

 

“Information that undermines the operational integrity of these activities will adversely affect public safety and have a negative impact on both national security and law enforcement.”

 

The statement added: “While there is a public interest in the transparency of policing operations and providing assurance that the police service is appropriately and effectively engaging with the threat posed by various groups or individuals, there is a very strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of police investigations and operations in the highly sensitive areas such as extremism, crime prevention, public disorder and terrorism prevention.”

 

But following a Freedom of Information request, police admitted no arrests had arisen from the use of UAVs.

Two drones have been purchased, costing £8,502.

The training cost is £10,620.

“Little has been achieved,” added our source. “It’s a waste of time.”

The public now has access to drones – and that has proved a headache for police.

In March, West Midlands Police revealed the force had investigated three UAV incidents stretching back to June, 2014.

They were a report of an individual flying a drone in a public park; suspicious purchase of a drone; filming using a drone and a drone hovering over a building.

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