Gwent Police are set to use drones to tackle crime as the Blaenau Gwent MP throws his support behind using them to stop off-roading across the borough’s countryside.
Over the next few months, Gwent Police plans to roll out unmanned drones to help with incidents such as finding missing people, policing large events and tackling anti-social behaviour and rural crime.
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith backed the use of drones on Saturday when he visited residents who told him they feel intimidated by off-road ‘vandalism’ on the Sirhowy Woodlands, near Tredegar.
Mr Smith said: “It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie but if it means police not having to give chase with the risks that involves, in all weathers and conditions across our hillsides I am all for it.
“It’s not about having one solution to cure all. It’s about considering every opportunity to minimise damage, identify those responsible and help those who want to do something like this in a legal and responsible way.”
Gwent Police have been given the go ahead from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to use unmanned aircraft at live police incidents.
The drones will be used at selected operational incidents to test their use before their wider roll out and Gwent Police have trained fourteen pilots to control the drones.
A Gwent Police spokeswoman said: “Drones are used by many and we hope they’ll offer our front line officers a different perspective on policing.”
Equipped with a camera the drones could be used to survey the countryside and take photographs of offenders, allowing for safer and easier identification.
This is the drone used by South Wales Police to catch criminals:
Video will play in
Mr Smith visited residents affected by off-road drivers after raising the issue in Parliament on January 23 where he said that “these troublemakers churn up the land, worry animals and intimidate local people.”
Residents told Mr Smith that groups of off road bikers have been driving up towards the Chartist Caves near Trefil, which is a site of special scientific interest.
Labour MP Mr Smith said: “Talking to Gwent Police, the council and the Police and Crime Commissioner it’s obvious everyone wants to do their bit to cut this activity out.
“I don’t want our beautiful countryside ruined and I don’t want to see scared walkers and farmers worried about their stock.
“There are off-roading clubs that help groups do rides in legal ways and that’s a great route for many.
“Unfortunately a few people have to ruin it for everyone else and we have to provide the authorities with the tools they need to combat this.”