Offenders in Lincolnshire will soon have fewer places to hide as the force takes charge of its latest crime-busting tools.
Around £80,000 is being invested in a series of initiatives, including a pilot drone project, upgrading nine vehicles to 4x4s, and purchasing all-terrain vehicles (a cross between a beach buggy and quad bike).
It is part of the Rural Community Safety Plan developed by the force in response to calls from Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Marc Jones.
The first hi-tech drone is set to be operational by August and will undergo a series of operational tests to enable the PCC and the force to assess how many drones will be needed to ensure full coverage of the county.
The unmanned drone will be equipped with a thermal imaging camera to enable officers to capture still or video images on difficult terrain and hard to reach areas such as woodland or coastline.
Mr Jones said: “The drone is the first one of several to come and until it arrives we do not know how many are needed.”
The drone will also be able to locate missing people more quickly than officers on foot and should prove invaluable in combatting rural and wildlife crime.
It could even be used during a firearm incident, allowing officers to gain vital information, quickly and safely, and the force to respond effectively at the scene.
Mr Jones added: “If you are a vulnerable missing person in Lincolnshire those first hours are critical and if you can get a drone airborne with thermal imagery it can help to identify them. Then you are looking at hare coursing. They will always claim to be out for a walk with their dog.
“If you can get a drone out you can watch everything. It can also help in fire and rescue by identifying people trapped through thermal imagery or during a flood to find someone who is stranded.”
Around £16,000 is being invested to get the first drone operational, which includes the thermal camera, training and licenses.
Community Policing Inspector for South Holland Gareth Boxall said: “This is a considerable investment for Lincolnshire Police and an exciting and innovative way to help us fight crime effectively. Once this drone is operational, I will want to make sure that South Holland makes best use of this resource to help the officers who already work hard in the district to be even more effective in solving crimes and disrupting criminals.”
○ In an additional £60,000 initiative, a new team of nurses have been brought into Lincolnshire Police’s control room to help officers deal with incidents involving mental health issues.
The crisis nurses from the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, are on hand six days a week to offer advice and support to officers or direct them to alternative services. The pilot scheme is set to last 12 months and it’s hoped it will continue if successful.
Marc Jones said: “I hope the new project will provide valuable support for officers dealing with very difficult circumstances on a daily basis as they keep our communities safe. It is equally important that we deal with vulnerable people as sympathetically and professionally as possible and get them the services and support they need quickly.
“The new crisis nurses will be on hand to help officers with the right advice, guidance and support to manage situations in the best way and to get the right help to the right place quickly.”