The project will consider the applicability of various drone types, as well as command, control and hazard detection systems, to ensure compliance with the regulatory policies and procedures of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Other considerations include potential value for money and the potential environmental gains of drone use, as well as noise reduction compared with the use of traditional aircraft in the same role.
NPAS says that it is working collaboratively with local police to accelerate understanding of how to integrate the technology into future air support capabilities. Key areas of interest include how the technology can be used in searches for missing or vulnerable people, suspects, vehicles and property.
However, the NPAS said: “This is a complex and detailed piece of research work, involving significant regulatory implications, and is still in its very early, exploratory stages. Many forces already deploy drones but their current capabilities are restrictive. This project is specifically looking at future technologies, giving necessary regard to compliance with strict CAA regulatory requirements.”
The potential use of drones by UK police has led to some concerns about the perceived potential for the abuse of the technology, with two Labour peers calling for greater government control over their use by police in November.