18-Feb-2010 Source: Merseyside Police
Thermal imaging technology has been used for the first time on the Force’s ‘drone’ or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to make an arrest.
Two men suspected of stealing a Renault Clio in Bootle were tracked by the UAV, which is a remote-controlled aerial camera operated by a police officer on the ground, and after fleeing the vehicle, one man was immediately arrested while another hid in thick undergrowth.
But thanks to the UAV’s onboard thermal imaging technology, its operator was able to use live images of the body-heat the suspect was giving out and direct patrols on the ground and in the dark to where he was.
The second alleged offender was arrested shortly after he abandoned the Clio.
Merseyside Police is the only police force in the country to operate a UAV and this was the first time since it was introduced last November that the specific use of its thermal imaging camera led to an arrest.
Chief Inspector Nick Gunatilleke from the Force’s Anti-social Behaviour Taskforce, which operates the UAV, said: “The Force is continually looking to use new technology to help in its fight against crime and these arrests demonstrate the value of having something like the UAV as a resource.
“In this case the UAV’s thermal imaging camera was particularly helpful in identifying where one of the suspects was hiding by detecting the body heat he was giving off. The live footage was being viewed by the UAV’s operator in the mobile command vehicle close to the scene and they were able to then direct patrols on the ground to where the suspect was concealed.
“We are the only police force in the country currently using a UAV like this and this is the first time the thermal imaging equipment has led directly to an arrest since the UAV went live in November so we are very pleased.
“It also has a wealth of other technology on board and we will use it whenever we can to support other resources such as the Force helicopter and dog patrols in dealing with incidents when they arise.”