Police increasingly use drones since Covid-19

Police increasingly use drones since Covid-19
A drone to control the social distancing rules at the Nieuwstraat/ Rue Neuve shopping street in Brussels, Saturday 16 May 2020. BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

The use of drones by Brussels police forces has increased, driven largely by their wider use during the pandemic. In 2o20, police drones were used for 369 missions.

Since then, drone operations have slightly decreased, but the Brussels-Capital Region nonetheless intends to purchase new drones to replace those bought in 2016, Le Soir reports.

The region initially bought five drones from French company Novadem for €210,000. Today it owns nine, which are co-managed by Brussels Federal Police. Some of the drones are designed for outdoor surveillance as well as for minor indoor reconnaissance missions.

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It was initially feared that the drones wouldn't be used due to a lack of police training in handling them. But there are now a sufficient number of staff who can use them since the use of police drones has been normalised in Brussels.

Between 1 Janaury and 28 July, Brussels police force carried out 159 drone missions, averaging almost five operations per week.

Peak use

By contrast, Brussels drones in 2019 carried out 198 missions for the whole year. When the pandemic hit in 2020, drone use soared to a peak of 369 missions.

2021 was a year marked by large anti-lockdown measures, yet the use of drones decreased slightly to 314 missions. 2022 numbers look set to remain at similar levels.

The Brussels region has ordered two new drones to replace older models whose flight hour limits have been exceeded, making them obsolete.

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