Law enforcement agencies around the world have been striving to become organizations where the mortality rates of both the perpetrator and protector are low.
Europe witnessed a surge in crime and terrorist-related activities, where the danger to the lives of law enforcement personnel is immense. To make law enforcement more efficient, European nations are taking various steps to augment their forces. One-fourth of the British law enforcement agencies are actively making plans to put Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to regular use. The authorities have already completed trials in Sussex and Surrey, and the consensus among agencies is that small UAVs can be a useful tool for police work. Since the United Kingdom is one of the biggest markets for small UAVs in Europe, this development is a very positive sign for the small UAV market.
In other nations also, particularly Germany, France, and Belgium, which have been affected by the recent upsurge in terrorism, there has been a significant rise in interest from police agencies for the use of small UAVs. A case in point is the German UAV manufacturer AirRobot, which has seen a substantial upsurge in demand and interest from law enforcement agencies for its range of surveillance drones. RAID, the elite counter-terrorism unit of the French National Police, has signed an agreement with Aera Access to produce anti-terrorism drones, which can be fitted with a weapons payload of up to 2kg. The Belgian National Police has started to employ the services of small UAVs to patrol the Limburg area in Eastern Belgium.
There has been intense public opposition to the increasing militarization of the law enforcement agencies worldwide. The agencies are increasingly sporting military equipment on the homeland and using this equipment against the citizens. Use of small UAVs by these agencies and other departments has specifically caused much anger amongst the public.
A case in point is an incident in the United Kingdom, where UAVs were spotted hovering over playgrounds in Liverpool. This incident caused grave concern among the residents of the area. There is a common concern among the public that UAVs are used to spy on them. The extensive use of drones over the homeland requires broad legislation and lobbying. Cases involving weak civilian support make these programs unsuccessful despite their comprehensive benefits.
Public sentiment against the use of drones remains one of the most severe limitations against the growth of the small UAV market. Public feeling against the use of drones in the homeland is more severe in North America than in Europe. The recent change in the security situation of the continent enabled the public to give law enforcement agencies more support for the use of drones. However, the use of drones by public and private authorities, apart from law enforcement agencies, is still opposed by the public, which remains a challenge for small UAV market and needs constant public relation and confidence-building activities.
Key Developments in the Market:
Major Players: Thales Group, Boeing Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, BAE Systems, Aeronautics Limited, Finmeccanica, and Microdrones GmbH, among others.
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