UK’s Widest Selection of Commercial Drones

Top Drones for Police in 2024

Last updated on

March 12, 2024


    In recent years, the integration of drones in the police force has significantly transformed policing strategies, not just within the United Kingdom, but globally. The use of drones in policing offers a unique blend of efficiency, safety, and versatility, making them indispensable tools in a vast amount of policing tasks. From aerial surveillance and crime scene analysis to traffic management and search-and-rescue operations, drones have proven to be game-changers.

    The upturn in UK police using drones reflects a broader trend towards embracing innovative solutions to meet the complex modern demands. Their versatility of drones, coupled with advancements in camera technology, thermal imaging, and real-time data transmission, enables police forces to gain aerial perspectives that were once only possible with the use of expensive and less readily available helicopter support. This technological leap forward not only enhances operational capabilities but also offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional policing methods.

    In this article, we will look at the types of drones police use, alongside their application in pursuit of upholding order and ensuring the safety of our communities.

    Why do the police use drones?

    Drones are a fantastic addition to the police because they allow officers to be dynamic and adaptable. The significant cost savings of using drones outweigh any initial outlay; for helicopter services (running at costs of £3,200 per hour), significant operational cost savings are immediately obvious. 

    Drones also offer significant advantages in response times, enabling officers on the frontline to quickly get eyes on their environment from the air. For instance, during events like the London Riots, the use of drones for real-time crowd monitoring could have potentially led to more effective management of the situation.

    The National Police Air Service’s (NPAS) Helicopter and Fixed-wing planes squadron already save £15m every year by having a centralised service. Using UAVs will complement their service and save even more money. Using drones to pre-assess a situation before sending a helicopter is the most obvious use. A drone can also be used solely for tasks such as missing persons and suspect searches at a far lower cost than dispatching the police helicopter.

    Yet the financial gain is just the tip of the iceberg. Drones are able to significantly reduce the risk posed to officers by providing new means of traversing difficult terrains or accessing hard-to-reach areas. 

    How are the police using drones?

    Drones are transforming the way police operations are conducted, offering enhanced capabilities for surveillance, search and rescue, operational planning and evidence gathering, providing perspectives that were only previously achievable from helicopters. Their adoption by police forces represents a forward-thinking approach to leveraging technology in the pursuit of public safety and effective policing. Let’s take a more in-depth look of how frontline officers are using drones:

    Searching for Suspects

    Drones are deployed to extend the reach of police searches, enabling officers to cover vast areas quickly. The aerial perspective offers a distinct advantage in locating suspects, especially those attempting to hide in difficult terrain or urban environments.

    Searching for Vulnerable Missing People

    For missing persons (mispers) considered vulnerable due to age, health, or other risk factors, time is of the essence. Drones can swiftly search extensive areas, including challenging landscapes like dense forests or waterways, significantly increasing the chances of a safe recovery.

    Searching for Stolen Property and Vehicles

    The use of drones aids in the recovery of stolen property and vehicles by scanning suspected locations or tracking movements in real-time. This not only aids in the retrieval of stolen items but also helps in gathering evidence for prosecutions.

    Overseeing Large Police Operations

    Large-scale police operations, such as crowd control during events or raids on extensive properties, benefit from drone surveillance. Drones provide a holistic overview, enabling staff sergeants to allocate resources more effectively and respond to dynamic situations promptly.

    Getting Aerial Imagery of Crime Scenes and Serious Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs)

    Drones capture detailed aerial photographs and videos of crime scenes and RTCs. This imagery is crucial for reconstructing events via 3D models (otherwise known as digital twins), understanding the dynamics of incidents, and gathering evidence without disturbing the scene. This also assists speed up the process of clearing the scene after the data has been collected.

    Assisting in Planning Police Operations

    The planning phase of police operations is enhanced by drones, which offer aerial insights into the layout of specific locations, potential risks, and tactical advantages. This information is invaluable for preparing officers for what they will face on the ground.

    Getting Aerial Imagery of Sensitive Sites Located

    Drones survey sensitive or critical infrastructure sites for security vulnerabilities, unauthorised activities, or in preparation for protective operations. Regular surveillance helps maintain the integrity of these locations.

    Managing Critical Incidents

    During critical incidents, such as standoffs or hostage situations, drones offer a safe way to monitor suspects and develop response strategies without putting officers in harm’s way.

    Do the police need special permissions to fly drones?

    You might think that the police need special permission to fly in UK airspace. Actually, because it saves time and money, using a UAV for police work is classed as ‘commercial gain’, therefore they are held to the same standard as any other drone operator in the UK.

    Many emergency services across the UK have been trained by RAE training providers, like Coptrz, to achieve the required qualifications needed for a permission to fly from the CAA.

    Once qualified, police officers must abide by the same regulations as the rest of the drone pilots in the UK, and are restricted to flying to 500m in distance. However, there is an emergency services exemption allowing up to 1000m if there is a serious threat to life.

    Drone Regulations Guide 2024

    Ready to unlock the full potential of drone technology in your operations while ensuring compliance with the latest regulations? Our Drone Regulations Guide is designed to provide you with the knowledge you need to fly your drones safely, legally, and effectively.

    Click here to access the guide and take the first step towards confident and compliant drone flying. 

    Click Here

    How much do police drones cost?

    The term “police drones” encompasses a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) specifically designed or adapted for the purposes of policing. These drones vary in size, capability, and cost, with specific models being chosen based on the operational needs of the police force. The individual police drone programmes are testament to the commitment of UK police to leverage technology in safeguarding public security and enhancing their operational effectiveness.

    What type of drones do police use?

    DJI Matrice 350 RTK

    Found across the majority of police drone units, the DJI Matrice 350 RTK (M350) is a proven platform that meets the rigorous and diverse demands of police work, offering benefits in surveillance, search and rescue, and tactical operations.

    One of the most significant advantages of the M350 is its lengthy 55-minute flight time. This extended duration enables police drone pilots to cover more ground or stay airborne longer during critical missions, enhancing a team’s capability to monitor situations in real-time, without the need for frequent landings to recharge. Such an attribute is invaluable during extended search and rescue operations, crowd monitoring, or when conducting prolonged surveillance on suspect activities.

    When the drone eventually has to land for a battery change, the systems hot-swappable battery feature allows pilots to quickly complete the task in seconds, without having to turn the drone off. This provides immense value for quick response operations where multiple drones aren’t in operation, reducing downtime and enhancing situational awareness for ground support units. 

    The drone’s IP55 rating is a testament to its durability under harsh environmental conditions, including rain, sleet, and snow. This ensures that police UAV operations can continue unhindered, regardless of challenging weather scenarios.

    Its capability to resist wind speeds of up to 12m/s (approximately 26mph) further underscores its stability and reliability. This feature is crucial for maintaining flight stability and ensuring high-quality, steady aerial footage during adverse weather conditions, providing police officers with clear, actionable intelligence that can serve valuable evidence once a criminal has been charged.

    The versatility of the M350 is another key benefit, highlighted by its ability to carry up to three payloads simultaneously, with a total weight capacity of up to 2.7kg. This flexibility allows police drone operators to equip the UAV with a variety of tools and sensors tailored to specific operational needs.

    This customisability spans across DJI’s suite of payloads across into the third-party market. Among these are the advanced DJI Zenmuse H20T thermal camera, the DJI Zenmuse H20N night vision camera, the CZI GL60 Plus Searchlight for illumination, and the CZI MP130 loudspeaker for communication. This wide range of compatible payloads ensures that police forces can adapt the drone for a multitude of tasks, from detailed aerial surveys and evidence collection to providing real-time information during critical incidents.

    DJI Mavic 3 Thermal

    As the smallest and most portable DJI police drone available, the DJI Mavic 3 Thermal (M3T) represents a significant leap forward in terms of deployment speed and ease of integration into police workflows, capable of being launched in under 60 seconds. In operations where the rapid deployment of aerial support can make a critical difference in outcome, the drone has proven its place as one of the most valuable tools for many police drone programs.

    The compact design of the M3T ensures that it can be easily stored in police vehicles without compromising the vehicle’s primary functions or space. This portability means that advanced aerial surveillance capabilities can be readily available to officers on the move, providing them with an immediate eye in the sky whenever and wherever it’s needed.

    With an impressive 45-minute flight time, the M3T ensures that officers can conduct comprehensive searches, monitor suspects or scenes for longer periods, and gather extensive data without the need for frequent landings and take-offs.

    With fixed tri-sensor payload, including a ½ inch 48 MP wide camera, ½ inch 12 MP tele camera, and 640 x 512 px thermal camera, the Mavic 3 Thermal allows police UAV operators to easily locate individuals by their heat signatures, even in complete darkness or through obstructions such as foliage. This capability is indispensable in search and rescue operations, where locating a misper quickly can be a matter of life and death.

    The drone’s RGB sensor compliments this by enabling operators to verify and investigate the heat signatures detected, providing a fuller understanding of the situation on the ground. Furthering this is the drone’s impressive 56x zoom and 28x continuous side-by-side zoom capability, which allows simultaneous zooming on both thermal and RGB data. A real game-changer for police work.

    This feature enables officers to closely inspect details from a safe distance, reducing risk and increasing the effectiveness of operations. Whether it’s identifying a suspect from afar, reading a vehicle license plate, or closely inspecting a potentially dangerous object, the zoom capabilities of the Mavic 3 Thermal provide invaluable intelligence to police forces.

    DJI Matrice 30 Thermal

    The DJI Matrice 30 Thermal (M30T) is often referred to as the lovechild of the Matrice and Mavic Series. It offers an optimal balance of size, performance, and cost that has made it a favourite among pilots across the whole public safety industry.

    One of its defining ‘Matrice’ features is its rugged design, evidenced by its IP55 rating. This certification ensures that the drone is capable of operating in harsh weather conditions, including rain, sleet, and snow, thereby offering reliable performance when it’s needed most. UK police drone operations often require deployment in less-than-ideal weather conditions, and the M30T’s resilience ensures that operators can maintain aerial capabilities regardless of environmental challenges.

    The M30T is equipped with a fixed quad-sensor payload. This sensor includes a ½ inch 48 MP zoom camera that delivers up to 200x zoom, allowing for impressive detail and clarity from a distance. This capability is particularly useful in situations where discrete observation or detailed inspection of a scene is required from afar. Additionally, the inclusion of a 12MP wide camera, a 640 x 512px thermal camera, and a 1,200m laser rangefinder enhances the drone’s utility across a broad range of operational scenarios.

    With AI smart track, the M30T can highlight and track a subject of interest and follow them. This is useful in suspect pursuits or crowd monitoring. This feature not only reduces the operational burden on UAV operators but also enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of police interventions by ensuring continuous observation of the target, even in dynamic and unpredictable situations.

    Acting as a midpoint between the high-power, high-capacity capabilities of the Matrice series and the agility and portability of the Mavic line, the DJI Matrice 30 Thermal is a strategic asset for police forces in the UK.

    Parrot ANAFI USA

    The Parrot ANAFI USA is a real asset for police forces in the United Kingdom. Developed and manufactured in the USA, this UAV sets itself apart with features that are finely tuned to enhance emergency response operations.

    The ANAFI USA has a lightweight design, tipping the scales at just 499 grams. This not only makes it one of the lightest drones in its category but also contributes to its distinction as the quietest drone available, becoming completely undetectable at distances of 130 meters. This makes it one of the best police surveillance drones, where maintaining a low profile is essential to avoid alerting suspects or disturbing ongoing scenarios.

    The simplicity and compactness of the ANAFI USA’s design enables rapid deployment, with readiness achieved in under 55 seconds. This quick deployment capability ensures that police UAV operators can have aerial support available almost instantaneously, which is crucial in fast-paced or emergent situations where time is of the essence.

    The ANAFI USA’s integration with the Pix4D suite elevates its utility in police work, particularly in accident scene reconstruction and emergency response planning. Compatibility with Pix4Dmatic allows for the creation of accurate 3D models of road traffic accidents, offering invaluable insights into incident dynamics and contributing to thorough investigations and analyses. This can significantly enhance the understanding of complex accident scenes, aiding in the accurate determination of causes and responsibilities, whilst reducing obstructions and delays caused by road closes.

    Additionally, its direct compatibility with Pix4Dreact, a mapping software specifically designed for emergency responders, enables the rapid and offline creation of 2D maps. This feature greatly increases situational awareness for police forces, facilitating more informed decision-making during critical incidents. The ability to quickly generate detailed maps can transform the operational capabilities of emergency responders, allowing for more effective coordination and deployment of resources in real-time.

    The Parrot ANAFI USA, with its lightweight and quiet operation, fast deployment, and advanced mapping capabilities, represents a powerful tool for UK police forces.

    Sky-Hero Loki Mk II

    The Sky-Hero Loki Mk II is a tactical indoor UAV designed to cater to the nuanced demands of armed units engaged in high-risk scenarios. This compact drone is engineered to navigate and provide critical insights into compromised environments that pose potential dangers to officers, thereby minimising the risks associated with direct human intervention in uncertain or hostile situations.

    By allowing officers to gain visual access to what lies ahead and relay in real-time to the operational team, the drone significantly reduces the risk of harm, enabling a more informed approach to navigating potentially dangerous environments. This capability is crucial in high-stakes scenarios where the safety of officer’s hinges on the ability to assess and respond to threats with precision and forethought.

    The rugged design ensures that flight remains possible, regardless of bumps, crashes, or interference from hostiles. Compact and agile, the Loki Mk II can manoeuvre through tight spaces, providing invaluable insights into the layout and occupancy of interior settings before officers make their entry.

    Another notable aspect of the Loki Mk II is its ability to be used in tandem with other Sky-Hero units. A single Sky-Hero GCS (controller) can operate up to 4 systems simultaneously. This includes the Sigyn Mk I system which we will cover next. This provides pilots with the ability to move multiple unmanned technology across various vantage points, give multiple eyes through an unknown environment, enhancing safety and situational awareness.   

    Sky-Hero Sigyn Mk I

    The Sigyn Mk I, developed by Sky-Hero, is a unique addition to the field of tactical and reconnaissance drone technology, specifically designed to meet the demanding needs of tactical reconnaissance in internal, compromised environments.

    Equipped with RGB imaging sensors capable of use in highly degraded lighting conditions, the Sigyn Mk I offers high-quality real-time video and data capture. With up to 120 minutes drive time and 300 minutes of sentry time, the Sigyn Mk I is crucial for gaining accurate situational awareness, allowing for informed decision-making during operations.

    Another significant advantage of the Sigyn Mk I is its ease of deployment. Designed with the user in mind, it can be quickly set up and launched, minimising the response time in emergency situations. This rapid deployment capability ensures that responders can take immediate action, providing a significant edge in time-sensitive scenarios.

    This evolution in the Sky-Hero ecosystem provides teams with an extra tool in their arsenal to retrieve crucial information quickly, safely, and effectively in potentially harmful operations before sending in humans.


    The landscape of drone technology presents a range of solutions for enhancing policing strategies across the United Kingdom. From the robust and versatile DJI Matrice 350 RTK platform, to the stealth and rapid deployment of the Parrot ANAFI USA and DJI Mavic 3 Thermal, and the tactical precision of the Sky-Hero Tactical Suite, there is an extensive selection of drone solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of police force.

    If your force is exploring the integration of drones, or is looking at expanding its existing operational toolkit, we encourage you to get in touch. With our comprehensive selection of police drones for sale in the UK, we are on-hand to provide you with the solutions you need to meet your policing challenges head-on. Whether you’re enquiring about the cost, capabilities, or compatibility of our drones with your existing systems, our team is ready to assist you in selecting the right drone solutions to enhance your police forces’ effectiveness and efficiency.

    Want to find out more?

    Ready to elevate your operational capabilities with the latest drone technology? Our team of experts is on hand, ready to understand your unique needs and provide tailored solutions that drive results.

    Whether you're new to drone technology or are looking to upscale an existing drone programme you can book a meeting today!

    Book a Meeting

    Enquire Now