From providing officers with crucial updates to keeping properties safe from potential thieves, drones showed their worth during the Whaley Bridge dam incident.
Derbyshire Constabulary Drone Unit utilised the capabilities of a range of DJI aircraft – supplied by DJI Gold Partner Heliguy - to provide a unique perspective of the situation at Toddbrook Reservoir following the partial collapse of the dam wall, which led to 1,500 people being evacuated. Many have now returned home.
The drones helped officials gain up-to-date insights about the state of play at the site and were used to patrol the evacuated town following reports of burglars trying to take advantage of the mass exodus.
One of the police officers called out to the incident described the use of drones as fantastic.
How The Police Benefited From Drones
Derbyshire Police’s fleet of drones played a key role in the Whaley Bridge operations.
The video below shows footage from the drone, which was played at a residents’ meeting to keep locals in the loop and to provide vital situational awareness.
As part of the monitoring efforts, check out the picture below, which shows the benefits of having a drone with a zoom camera.
The first image shows an aerial shot of the dam from afar, with the bags of aggregate which have been used to fill in the damage on the right of the structure, while the second image shows the bags of aggregate as captured by the zoom.
It provides a unique view of the situation, while keeping officers away from danger, and was used for a team briefing by another emergency service who wanted this level of detail.
A statement on Derbyshire Police's Facebook page said: 'The drone unit is there to capture evidence and quick shots taken from the drone showed an up-to-date view of the situation at Toddbrook Reservoir. The drones are here for operational support and we were grateful to them for sharing their footage with us so we could give an overview of how the situation was looking.'
Police also reported how they used the drones to patrol people's empty houses, following evacuation and reports of burglars. It later turned out that suspected intruders were actually two police officers.
A statement on the Force's Facebook page said: 'Our officers have been taking to the skies to conduct crime-prevention patrols around the Whaley Bridge area, to ensure the security of houses in the evacuation zone.
'In addition to our foot patrols and the staffed cordons in the area, our newly-expanded 24/7 drone capabilities allows us to get views of the town previously only afforded to us by helicopter.
'Features of these machines include thermal imaging cameras to search for people moving in the darkness, effectively giving the officers night vision.
'These enhanced patrols were in response to concerns from evacuated residents about the security of their properties while they were away from their homes.'
'The Drones Have Been Fantastic'
One of the drone team members to deploy to the incident was PC Victoria Atherton - the Force's first female drone pilot who recently qualified thanks to training with Heliguy. Read the full story here.
She said: "The drones have been fantastic and have been great for working in partnership with the engineers, RAF and fire crews and we’ve been able to supply them with close up images of the dam when needed. The drones have also helped to position the aggregate and to monitor the situation.
"We’ve also been able to patrol the exclusion zone with the drone to monitor people’s homes as there have been reports of burglars in the area.”