Police trial drone as a first responder technology on the Isle of Wight

In one of the first Drone as First Responder (DFR) trials in the UK, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary and Thames Valley Police trialled the technology as part of policing the 2024 Isle of Wight Festival.

DFR is a concept being developed and tested by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) pathways programme. DFR sees police drones launched and piloted remotely to provide a fast response to incidents, feeding back real time information to police control rooms and operational units.

The trial at the Isle of Wight Festival created a simulated DFR capability in addition to the force’s routine police drones resource and saw a drone being flown from an IDI Automated Deployment System – essentially a remote box from which the drone is launched.

Pilot and NPCC BVLOS Project Lead, Chris Stagg, led the experienced team running the trial which was stationed at a temporary heliport set up for the festival within a temporary restricted area. He said the event was the first time the team had been able to put the DFR technology to use in a live environment. “It gave us a great insight to just how effective it could be as part of a routine policing response in the near future, helping keep people safe and providing a dynamic and responsive view of the situation on the ground.”

In addition to the live view, the DFR capability was deployed in response to a request to check that road closures were correctly in place.

The NPCC said the trial will inform future development of drone use in policing.

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