Incident support reaches new heights

Date published: 12 July 2022 14:22
Dated: 12 July 2022 15:16:21

With over 1,400 operational drone flights last year we are keen to tell you how our fleet of 15 aircrafts support the work of officers and teams from across the force.

So, this week we’re ‘checking in’ with our Airport Policing Group to learn more around our aircraft skills and capabilities, and how they assist with a range of searches and incidents.

South Yorkshire Police introduced drone capability to the force in 2019, launching with five aircraft and 19 trained staff. Three years later we have 24/7 cover with 45 trained staff and 15 aircraft.

The ‘pilots’ are officers from across a number of teams including roads policing, firearms, tactical support group, airport policing group, and each district’s tasking, response and neighbourhood teams.

The aircraft are deployed to various investigations and incidents, including searching for missing people, public order, protests, road traffic collisions, as well as supporting with events.

We use two types of aircraft, the DJI Mavic Enterprise and the Evolve Sky Mantis.

PC Tim Croson from the airport policing group explains their capabilities. Tim said: “Both of the aircraft we use have thermal capabilities, allowing us to search for heat sources, which is a great asset when looking for a missing or vulnerable person.

“The thermal hot spotting also allows us to work in Joint Emergency Service Interoperability Programme (JESIP) situations, including major incidents. For example, we have worked alongside the fire service when responding to large-scale fires. We are able to fly the aircraft above the fire and identify the main heat source, and show where the firefighters need to concentrate their efforts.

“Some of the aircrafts have a speaker system which we can use to speak to people, for example if we have found a missing person hundreds of meters away, we’re able to speak through the aircraft to ask if they are injured and need medical help.

“The zoom function on the aircraft allows us to search a large amount of area or land which ultimately saves on police resources and time. The level of search we can do from the sky is equivalent to hours and hours of officers searching on foot.

“Aircraft are often deployed at large scale events for Commanders to have ‘eyes on the ground’ and be able to ensure the public’s safety and respond to incidents quickly should they occur.”

Our aircraft are not to replace the support we receive from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) but to support officers on the ground. SYP are the lead for the North East region and welcome forces and organisations from across the country to share experiences and knowledge so we all learn and develop these operational support assets.

Tim added: “Not all forces in the country have aircraft capability or have aircraft support as established as we do in SYP.

“We have worked hard over the past three years developing our staff into pilots and investing in the aircraft. We are proud to be able to continue to train our pilots to support officers across South Yorkshire and ultimately protecting our communities.”

Our Airport Policing Group are part of the Operational Support Unit whose work you can follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @SYPOperations and @Syp_ops.

Two of the drones we use within SYP- The DJI Mavic Enterprise and the Evolve Sky Mantis.

Two of the drones we use within SYP- The DJI Mavic Enterprise and the Evolve Sky Mantis.

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