Friday 26 February 2021

Drones to be used to combat people smuggling

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch border police are investigating using drone technology to detect people-smuggling.

A spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee confirmed to DutchNews.nl that in the wake of discovering stowaways in dangerous conditions such as refrigerated containers, it is stepping up monitoring procedures.

It is thought that the force will use innovative technology such as infra-red cameras to detect people who could be hiding within vehicles, as well as honing in to search specific areas in detail using the images from above.

Risks

Major Robert van Kapel, a spokesman for the force, told DutchNews.nl that it intended to use all means it could to confound human smugglers.

‘Logically, because of the pandemic, there has been a large drop in the numbers of people [trying to get into Britain, for instance],’ he said. ‘There are fewer journeys, fewer ferries, and we have so far picked up about 400 people trying to climb in or hang on to vehicles.

‘That’s about half of last year, but we are seeing that smugglers are getting more and more inventive about hiding places. Sometimes they take huge risks. What we don’t want is once again to pull open a container to discover people who have suffocated or have died of hypothermia – something that has happened recently.’

Detection

The force, which has a number of functions, is responsible for border checks, he added. ‘Amongst other jobs, we guard the borders at the harbours, and we have other detection tasks in the Netherlands and outside it. We are now using drones on a number of fronts, with innovation in mind and to support our tasks.

They are very useful to give us more sensors, which will without a doubt help with the checks we do at the Hook of Holland and Europoort [in Rotterdam]… Drones can see a lot more from above, they can look in a very specific way, and we are experimenting with other possibilities.’

It is not the first force in the Netherlands to see the possibilities of drones. After some years training birds of prey to take out potential enemy drones, Dutch police started investigating using the flying cameras to help solve crimes and monitor crowd behaviour several years ago.

There are, however, laws governing the use of the unmanned flying machines such as a flight height limit of 120 metres and training requirements for the ‘pilot’.

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