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Police will use drones as first responders to incidents and victims will be able to report crimes by video call in £230m plan to free up officers revealed in Budget

The Chancellor has pledged additional funding to use for first responder drones and police video calls in the Budget in the House of Commons today.

Jeremy Hunt, who delivered his annual address at lunchtime on Wednesday, told his colleagues that £230million will be earmarked to spend on ‘time and money saving technology’ for police forces.

This will include allowing people to report crimes using video calls and for drones to be used as first responders ‘where appropriate’.


In addition, the Chancellor pledged £75million to roll out more violence reduction units and fund hot spot policing, as part of a wider £800million fund to boost productivity in public services outside of the NHS. 

Mr Hunt told the Commons the increased use of technology would help save time, therefore giving officers more time and increasing response times. 

The Chancellor has pledged additional funding to use for first responder drones and police video calls in the annual Budget

The Chancellor has pledged additional funding to use for first responder drones and police video calls in the annual Budget

Jeremy Hunt is pictured with his signature red box as he leaves Downing Street to deliver the budget

Jeremy Hunt is pictured with his signature red box as he leaves Downing Street to deliver the budget


It is unclear what first responder drones will do, or what type of incident they will be deployed for.

Speaking about his plans to make public services ‘more efficient’, Mr Hunt said: ‘Police officers waste around eight hours a week on unnecessary admin – with higher productivity, we could free up time equivalent to 20,000 officers over a year.

‘So we will spend £230 million rolling out time and money saving technology which speeds up police response time by allowing people to report crimes by video call and where appropriate use drones as first responders.’

Last year it was revealed some police forces would trial the use of drones in deployment in some reports of crimes.


This could involve using them to provide swift surveillance of an incident and track suspects at the scene. 

If successful, drones could be stationed on buildings and operated remotely to scenes to give the police early information. 

Increased use of AIs such as for facial recognition is also to be funded within the £230million money pot, the Treasury said. 

Speaking about a Norfolk trial for the drones in November, National Police Chief Council advisor Neil Sexton said: ‘DFR is a drone that sits autonomously on a roof somewhere in a city and it’s in a box, it’s protected.


The use of drones as first responders are part of measures to save police time and money, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said

The use of drones as first responders are part of measures to save police time and money, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said

Laying out the Tory pitch to voters, the Chancellor insisted that he believes 'lower taxes mean higher growth'

Laying out the Tory pitch to voters, the Chancellor insisted that he believes ‘lower taxes mean higher growth’

Mr Hunt also intends for police to take reports of crimes by video call, which he says will provide officers with more information and save time

Mr Hunt also intends for police to take reports of crimes by video call, which he says will provide officers with more information and save time

‘From a control station that receives a 999 call it can be launched completely remotely, flying overhead an incident to gain situational awareness that will be fed back not just to that control station or control room, but also to the first responders who are about to arrive on the ground.’


‘The ability to get a remote aircraft overhead an incident that is still developing to gain a better situational awareness [is] much improved over phone calls from members of the public who are under stress.

‘Sitting overhead, it can tell you straight away whether you’re talking about a major road traffic collision that requires three fire engines and four ambulances, or whether it’s a minor prang and someone’s getting over-excited.’ 

Police in England and Wales currently use about 400 drones, but they currently cannot be flown out of the operator’s line of sight.

Plans are in place to amend those rules to allow police operators to do so, with initial trials taking place in areas with closed-off this year.


Mr Hunt said £170 million would be used to fund ‘non-court resolution, reduce reoffending and digitise the court process’.

He also said £165 million would be invested over the next four years to increase the capacity of the children’s homes estate while £105 million over the next four years would be used to build 15 new special free schools.

According to the Treasury, this investment in public services will help deliver £1.8billion of benefits by 2029. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (left) prepares to exit 11 Downing Street, London, with his ministerial box and members of his Treasury staff before the budget

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (left) prepares to exit 11 Downing Street, London, with his ministerial box and members of his Treasury staff before the budget


The Chancellor also unveiled further plans to make the NHS more efficient, and a future increase in tobacco duty, as well as the implementation of a duty tax on vapes. 

Laying out the Tory pitch to voters, the Chancellor insisted that he believes ‘lower taxes mean higher growth’. 

He is expected to offer relief to 27million workers by trimming NICs. It will be worth £450 a year to a typical earner, but Mr Hunt is badging it as £900 taken with the previous reduction last Autumn.

‘Keeping taxes down matters to Conservatives in a way it never can for Labour,’ he said.


But Conservatives have been warning that Mr Hunt must go further than the NICs move to close Labour’s enormous poll advantage.

Mr Hunt had the traditional photocall with his Treasury team and Red Box in Downing Street this morning, although he suffered an awkward moment as the No11 door failed to open so he could go back inside.

Earlier he warmed up for what will be one of the biggest moments in his political career with a run.

Economic think-tanks warned the NI cut would not be enough to prevent the overall tax burden rising as a result of huge stealth taxes imposed in the wake of the pandemic.


The Institute for Fiscal Studies said: ‘Based on forecasts from last autumn, that tax cut would not – by itself – be enough to prevent taxes as a share of GDP from rising to record levels in 2028-29.’

The Resolution Foundation said that people on less than £19,000 a year would be left worse off overall, as the impact of frozen tax thresholds on their income would be greater than the benefit of the cut in NI.

The anticipated NI cut will cost £10billion and benefit 27million workers. The standard rate, which was 12p before November’s autumn statement, has already been cut to 10p and will now fall to 8p next month.

A worker on an average earnings of £35,000 will gain £450 a year. But because the Chancellor cut National Insurance by an identical sum in November, he will present it as a package worth £900 to the average worker.


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