Sussex Police launches drone to improve safety in night-time economy
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Sussex Police has introduced a new drone to the night-time economy as part of its commitment to keeping people safe on a night out.
Fitted with a high resolution thermal imaging camera, spotlights and a speaker, the drone has been launched in Brighton this week following a successful implementation in West Sussex over the summer.
It will primarily operate along the beach on Friday and Saturday nights to help spot vulnerable people, criminal behaviour and gather evidence when necessary.
The drone offers a view of typically hard to reach areas such as the beach
Two trained drone operators control the device, linked in with other officers on the ground who can attend any incidents spotted by the drone’s camera.
Superintendent Adele Tucknott, Sussex Police’s lead for violence against women and girls, said: “Everyone should be able to enjoy a night out in safety and this drone is another tool in our toolbox as we protect the public.
“It is an extra set of eyes in the sky that gives a completely new perspective of typically harder to reach areas, like the beach, that officers on the ground are as easily able to see.
“The primary aim is to prevent crime by helping to spot vulnerable people and criminal behaviour, ultimately stopping people coming to harm.”
The drone has already been deployed successfully in West Sussex, monitoring ongoing incidents and helping to locate people of interest in Bognor Regis, Worthing, Crawley and Horsham.
In Brighton, it will be added to the existing range of safety measures in place between Sussex Police and its partners, such as extra high-visibility patrols; Night Safety Marshals to help vulnerable people; taxi marshals to help you get home safe; street pastors to support people in need; Beach Patrol spotting vulnerability on the seafront; a Safe Space in West Street and a host of additional security measures in licensed venues.
Digital screens signposting to support services have also been introduced around the city, including the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme and the Safe Spaces app, which directs people towards local businesses where they can seek help.
Superintendent Tucknott added: “This should send a clear message to people wishing to prey on vulnerable people in Sussex that it will not be tolerated and we will do everything in our power to bring you to justice.
“Sussex is a safe place to live and visit, but if you do fall victim to a crime please report it to us online, via 101 or dial 999 in an emergency. You will be heard, believed and supported.”
The drone is funded via Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, who visited a nightclub in Brighton on Tuesday (26 September) to distribute anti-spiking equipment.
Katy said: “Brighton has long been renowned for its pubs and clubs and, with a thriving night-time economy, the city fills up every evening with visitors and students. Sussex Police maintains an excellent relationship with local venues and officers work closely with the city council, taxi firms and the rail and bus services to ensure that people can enjoy their night out and get home safely.
"My office has secured £300,000 for safety initiatives to make Brighton a safer place, including support for taxi marshals and additional police patrols.
"Sadly, predators and opportunists will seek to take advantage of the parks and dark shoreline. That’s why I was pleased to see that police are now able to deploy a drone providing vital eyes in the sky to support officers on the ground and to quickly spot vulnerable people.
"For many young people starting their studies this autumn, fresher’s week traditionally involves lots of clubbing and late nights out. I was delighted to meet with Rox Promotions at The Arch nightclub on the seafront this week to provide them with a year’s supply of Stop Topps.
“The popular anti-spiking drink covers will be distributed amongst their venues in the city and will help to prevent drink spiking, showing that venues take safety seriously.”