CRIME fighting will be taking to the skies soon, thanks to the technological efforts of a Harnham-based businessman.

Salisbury's Mark Lawrence, a former police officer, runs Rotorcams UK, a company based in East Harnham which specialises in aerial photography and surveillance and is in talks to provide state-of-the-art equipment to police forces up and down the country.

Originally developed in Germany, the cutting edge AirRobot utilises a battery-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), controlled by a hand-held device, to transport cameras providing crystal-clear images and even moving pictures.

Mr Lawrence said: "Although this is high-tech kit, the principles behind it are very simple. The machine flies with spinning carbon-fibre rotator blades, which makes it hover in the same way as a helicopter.

"Attached to the machine are its battery pack, a device which enables someone to steer it from the ground with a hand-held control unit, and then the camera which beams back images to a computer located with the pilot."

"They are so simple to use and so effective that after we unveiled it at a trade fair recently, word spread about what we could do and we have been inundated with enquiries.

"We have had interest from MI5 and other security agencies, and we are putting on demonstrations for the Ministry of Defence's top procurement officers, and also for various police forces up and down the country."

Wiltshire Police are one of the many forces who have expressed an interest in acquiring the technology.

A spokesman for the force said: "We are always on the look out for ways to help us fight crime.

"On a local level, having something like this set up in a car would save us having to wait for a helicopter to give us aerial support. The possibilities for a piece of equipment like this are endless."

However, it is not only police forces who are keen to acquire the equipment.

Mr Lawrence explained: "Having a camera which can see into places where others cannot, such as over walls and beyond inhospitable terrain, has obvious uses for both the armed forces and the police, but there are many ways this technology can be put to use.

"We have had enquiries from companies who carry out aerial surveys and aerial photography, property companies have expressed an interest in taking a look, and there is also a link to the fire and rescue teams who would find this kind of thing very helpful."

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