Patrol group drone use would be 'over the line'

The new Wanaka Community Patrol due to start up tomorrow will not be deploying a drone.

Wanaka community patrol chairman Steve Worley, who owns a drone and can see many potential uses for it, indicated to the Otago Daily Times this week he was willing to make it available for patrol work.

His drone carries a small video camera and could be equipped with a night image intensifier.

However, national operations officer Dave Ross said yesterday use of a drone by a community patrol would be ''stepping slightly over the line''.

Mr Ross said the job of community patrols was to help prevent crime rather than gather evidence or apprehend offenders.

''That's not our function. That's a police function.''

Police first used a drone in 2012 but Mr Ross said using drones was not something his organisation was contemplating.

Community patrols also had to follow strict guidelines on how cameras were used, and needed to bear in mind the Search and Surveillance Act, he said.

''Because we are in a strategic relationship with the police, there is the risk that a patroller or a patrol may decide to assist by doing something that doesn't fit in the category.

''So we are steering well and truly away from cameras.''

Some community patrol cars had cameras but the safety of patrollers required them to be used appropriately, Mr Ross said.

Patrollers were instructed to be primarily the ''eyes and ears'' of the police and leave the apprehension of offenders to the police.