Police force to build network of drone take-off and landing sites

West Midlands Police (WMP) is looking to build a network of take-off and landing sites for its drones.

The force said it will be working with Urban-Air Port Limited (UAP) on the project with the aim of setting up a site in Coventry as a base for cargo drones and air taxis.

UAP is the world’s first operational vertiport for advanced air mobility and it is based in Coventry during its year of being The City of Culture.

WMP said that with its 46 dedicated drone pilots providing a 24/7 service, drones are offering increasing opportunities to help save lives, capture evidence and spot offenders as they try to hide or run away.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike O’Hara said: “It’s an exciting time for the development of police use of drones. As a force we receive over 2,000 emergency calls a day, so the possibility of using drones to innovate the emergency service sector is endless.

“Urban-Air Port will allow us to explore, showcase and implement what the future holds for policing the sky.”

Last year 3,450 flights were carried out across the skies of the West Midlands.

All our drones are funded by the Asset Recovery Fund as part of the Proceed of Crimes Act, meaning they were paid for by convicted criminal’s cash.

Inspector Mark Colwell said: “Drones offer a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to gain footage from above. They are helping us in a wide range of applications. While there continues to be a need for a helicopter to carry out high-speed, long-distance pursuits, drones give us the benefit of additional air support at those times when a helicopter cannot be justified.

“We have our fleet of drones strategically located at a number of bases. When urgent support is requested, they can reach all areas of the West Midlands within minutes. They are small enough to fit in a car boot, so can be transported quickly and easily.”

He added: “We’re looking forward to being a part of the Urban-Air Port showcase on 25 April about how drones can be used in the future and how we police the sky. The ‘pop up’ Urban-Air Port is supported by the UK Government and Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility division, Supernal. Meeting the public as well as the force’s engagement with schools and universities is key to educate and provide reassurance about our use with drones.”

Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban-Air Port, said: “It’s a great privilege to be working with West Midlands Police to enhance safety of our communities and set new benchmarks in how through the use of technology we can provide greater security via quicker response times with zero emissions.

“Growing up in Birmingham as a child, I’m delighted to be able to support West Midlands Police’s efforts in keeping us safe and deploying Air One as a disaster emergency management and security hub for their demonstrations.”

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