ADANCES in technology are helping Dorset Police in the fight against crime.

A number of initiatives and advances in service delivery that Dorset Police is developing in line with the Police & Crime Plan were showcased to partner agencies at an event on Friday.

This includes body worn video and drones.

Body worn video (BWV) has been piloted across Dorset, with a permanent roll-out to firearms officers earlier this year. Since this time, more than 6,500 pieces of footage have been saved to police systems from around 75 cameras in use in Dorset.

The long-term goal is to equip all operational frontline officers.

Police say BWV can often help to diffuse difficult situations, enhance the evidence gathering ability of the police and captures officers’ experiences, providing greater transparency and accountability.

Those attending the 'ask the experts' panel at Winfrith hosted by Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill were also given a demonstration of a police drone.

Dorset Police along with their Strategic Alliance partners are the first in the UK to launch a fully operational drone unit, offering a highly cost-effective approach to support operational officers on the ground.

Complementing the role of the NPAS helicopter, drones will be used to aid officers with missing person searches, crime scene photography, major road traffic collision responses, coastal and woodland searches and can even help police monitor suspects during a firearm or terrorist incident.

Mr Underhill said: “I have been involved in policing for more than forty years, and I have never seen the service and the landscape it sits within change so dramatically in such a short period.

“On the one hand, new threats to public safety are constantly emerging and policing must be quicker than ever at adapting to new challenges, at a time when funding and resources are stretched across the totality of policing.

“On the other, we are seeing increased innovation, which must be supported, with the ongoing development of technology presenting opportunities for a more efficient, match-fit and cost-effective service.”

He added: “Many know I am a huge advocate of drone technology. The equipment provides a great resource to police and other emergency services workers, which allows vital information to be gained quickly and safely. Drones are just one example of how we will continue to work hard to find innovative ways to adapt to change over the coming years.”

The event also included a wider discussion on transformational changes taking place to the way that complaints against the police are processed.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Colin Pipe, who is overseeing these changes said: “Previously, complaints concerning officers have been directed to Dorset Police; new proposals would see the OPCC as the first point of contact and responsible for the triaging of complaints received.

“We will be running a pilot scheme in Dorset this autumn, ahead of legislative changes coming into action in June 2018. We aim to address any concerns that the police are seen to mark their own homework, and boost public confidence in procedure.”

Four scrutiny panels are being developed as part of this. These will focus on areas such as customer service and use of force, these panels will include representation from Dorset Police, the OPCC and the public.