Police use aerial drones to catch illegal off-road riders in Wakefield

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Camera drones are to be used by police to catch illegal off-road riders in Wakefield.

Bike officers deployed the aerial drones in a test operation at Horbury Lagoon last week, in what was the first such use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology to support off-road bike policing in West Yorkshire.

Tests showed that it was able to give a crystal clear picture, providing the drone operator with details which could be direct relayed to officers on the ground.

More flights in other ‘hotspot’ areas for anti-social riding in the district are now being planned.

Chief Inspector Alan Rhees-Cooper of Wakefield District Police, said: “The UAVs provide us with a significant new ability to track suspects further, and more quickly direct our riders to trouble spots, really boosting our riders ‘real time’ intelligence of where suspects are heading as they approach areas where anti-social riders are operating.”

“We remain focussed on combatting illegal off road riding, and continue to ask people to get in touch and give intelligence about anti-social riders operating in their communities to their local neighbourhood policing teams. We are acting to catch these people and are getting them off the road and putting them before the courts.

The Matrix off-road police team is now operating seven days a week after its expansion in late 2018 and is busier than it has ever been. During 2018 the team seized 96 off road bikes and either charged or reported 43 people for summons.

PC Finley of the Operation Matrix Team, said: “The use of drones will really assist us. In tests on Horbury Lagoon, a drone covering the southern area was able to give the operator a perfect view of the whole lagoon itself due to its height and camera kit, illustrating their effectiveness.

“If any illegal riders had been present and operating out of view of our Matrix team, the drone pilot would have spotted them and been able to guide us straight to where the problem was.”