Drones team will be po­lice eye-in-the-sky

Middleton Guardian - - WILDLIFE - BY NICK STATHAM

DRONES could fol­low yobs back to their homes as part of a new po­lice trial to tackle crime and anti-social be­hav­iour.

A meet­ing in Mid­dle­ton heard that Greater Manch­ester Po­lice is form­ing a new drone unit and is cur­rently train­ing of­fi­cers to use eye-in-the-sky tech­nol­ogy to thwart crooks.

The air­borne de­vices will be used to pho­to­graph of­fend­ers and could even track them to their home ad­dress – po­ten­tially lead­ing to evic­tions for se­rial wrong­do­ers.

Supt Chris Hill said: “We are look­ing at util­is­ing new tech­nolo­gies in or­der to aid frontline polic­ing and safe­guard com­mu­ni­ties.

“As part of this we have trained pi­lots who are tri­alling the use of drones to sup­port frontline polic­ing. We will make the pub­lic aware of any fur­ther de­vel­op­ments when we are able to.”

News of the po­lice’s new aerial ini­tia­tive was an­nounced at a Po­lice and Com­mu­ni­ties To­gether (PACT) meet­ing, in Mid­dle­ton on Wed­nes­day night.

Res­i­dents have long com­plained about off-road bikes be­ing driven reck­lessly on Bowlee Play­ing Fields, en­dan­ger­ing horserid­ers, dog walk­ers and young chil­dren.

And long-suf­fer­ing neigh­bours re­vealed that plans were now in the pipe­line to use drones to iden­tify of­fend­ing rid­ers and other trou­ble­mak­ers in the area.

The scheme is be­ing ‘fully sup­ported’ by Mid­dle­ton Town­ship, and ward Coun­cil­lor Phil Burke says it will be work­ing closely with GMP to en­sure the project comes to fruition.

Coun Burke said he wel­comed any­thing that would re­duce off-road bikes com­ing into the Mid­dle­ton area – par­tic­u­larly Bowlee..

He said: “We will use any de­ter­rent and work in part­ner­ship with GMP and the off-road bike team. “Once we iden­ti­fied bikes we will take proac­tive ac­tion, take bikes away and deal with the cul­prits. We need to send a clear mes­sage out to peo­ple that it will not be tol­er­ated in our com­mu­ni­ties – the caus­ing of may­hem and up­set to lo­cal res­i­dents.”

Speak­ing af­ter the meet­ing Coun Burke said the use of drones would open up a new di­men­sion in the bat­tle against anti-social be­hav­iour – adding that per­sis­tent of­fend­ers could face se­ri­ous con­se­quences un­der their ten­ancy agree­ments.

He said: “You can’t see it, you can’t hear it but the drones will iden­tify the bikes and fol­low them back to the ad­dress, where the po­lice can seize them and take the ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion on in­di­vid­u­als – and this is fully sup­ported by the coun­cil.”

This ap­proach could also be used to tackle other forms of anti-social be­hav­iour and pub­lic nui­sance.

Po­lice re­cently used a dis­per­sal or­der at the for­mer Sax­on­side care home, in the Lan­g­ley area of Mid­dle­ton, as large groups of youths were de­scend­ing on the site and vandalising the build­ing.

Coun Burke added: “A num­ber of of­fend­ers were iden­ti­fied, taken back to their par­ents and warned not to come back to the site or they would be dealt with ac­cord­ingly by GMP.

“There have since been no is­sues but we need to make it clear to par­ents – they need to know where their chil­dren play, es­pe­cially in the evening time.”

Coun Burke added that coun­cil­lors and po­lice work closely with housing as­so­ci­a­tions River­side and Rochdale Bor­ough­wide Housing (RBH).

He said: “We speak to the par­ents con­cerned be­cause un­der ten­ancy agree­ments this is classed as anti-social be­hav­iour and housing groups will not tol­er­ate any forms of such be­hav­iour.”

And he told the Guardian that ac­tion could po­ten­tially in­volve evic­tions, although this would only be as a ‘last re­sort’. He added: “Hope­fully with me­di­a­tion be­tween the housing as­so­ci­a­tion, par­ents and chil­dren we can nip it in the bud. At the end of the day we don’t want to see peo­ple hav­ing ten­ancy agree­ments ter­mi­nated but if some­one is be­ing a po­ten­tial trou­ble­maker and there’s no way out but to do that, we will take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion and re­quest the housing group does the same.”

Po­lice are form­ing a drone squad

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