Last month our Ranger team and Facilities Manager Jon met with PC Aaron Dagley and PCSO Connor Smith from the Community Police Team to look at creative new ways that we can work together to look after the Park and its visitors - it formed part of a larger conversation we've been having with the Community Police Team about issues with tresspassing, anti-social behaviour, dangerous behaviour and criminal damage around the site.

A new measure introduced as a result of our renewed partnership is the presence of PC Dagley and other UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) trained Officers now carrying out regular routine drone flights in order to monitor the site. Each device is equipped with cameras capable of high-definition video and high-resolution photographs, and operation will be carefully managed through ongoing discussions with the Community Police Team.

Just like how Community Police Officers patrol local neighbourhoods, thanks to the UAV technology Officers will be able to virtually "patrol" large areas of the site in a more efficient way from designated spots within the Country Park. It also means that we can access the more remote areas of the site that are restricted from public access, but we know have been prone to anti-social behaviour in the past.

By working more closely and introducing routine monitoring we're also hoping that the Community Police Team will be able to respond more quickly and accurately to any emergency call out situations that we may get in the Park, such as missing person searches or medical emergencies.

Recreational drone use by members of the public is not permitted on any Forest of Marston Vale site, but this use by trained Officers has been commissioned by the Trust and satisfies stringent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) criteria and insurance requirements. After completing test flights at various heights Anna, our Head Ranger, is happy that the use of UAV monitoring by trained Police Officers in this way isn't going to disrupt the various habitats or cause any concerns for wildlife visiting or residing in the Park.

We do hope that this routine Police presence on site will be a deterrent to vandals and trespassers who have caused devastating damage and continued to put our wildlife and visitors (and themselves) at risk.

For GDPR and privacy information please see the Bedfordshire Police Privacy Notice and Joint Drone Policy, detailing the privacy impact assessment.