A special training operation demonstrating the important role drones are now playing in saving lives and police time across Lincolnshire has taken place today at a coastal location.
Lincolnshire Police teamed up with the Coastguard and Derbyshire Police in three 'high risk' scenarios to prepare drone pilots for major incidents in which they may be required.
The remote location was along the sea bank between Leverton and Wrangle - where under normal circumstances many officers on foot would have been required to conduct the search and rescue.
Since Lincolnshire Police acquired two drones two years ago at a cost of £25,000 they have been used in 403 incidents. They are based in Boston and Lincoln
Insp Ed Delderfield, Lincolnshire Police lead on drones, explained the scenarios included locating a man who had absconded with a firearm, a man who said he wanted to harm himself, and a person who had absconded with another person saying they were going to harm that person.
Under normal conditions, police drone pilots are only permitted to fly up to a maximum distance of 500m - but operators are permitted by the legislation to fly at extended distances under exceptional circumstances such as reacting to life at risk or major incidents.
On this occasion they were covering distances of up to a mile with the drones, which have the ability to zoom in on a rabbit in darkness from 400ft.
Insp Delderfield explained: "We are here so our officers trained in the use of drones can practice flying at extended distances, extended flight times and practice in realist scenarios that they might find themselves in in the real world.
"Operators are permitted by the legislation to fly at extended distances under exceptional circumstances, such as reacting to life at risk or major incidents. It is important that officers are familiar with flying under these circumstances prior to being required to do so in a live situation.
"Drones are really useful because they are a rapidly deployable air asset - we can call on the police helicopter but our nearest one is West Yorkskshire or south of Leicester and can take time to get here. What we can do with drones is start that initial search where minutes really can make a difference."
*For the full story and pictures see next week's newspaper.