In the UK, a police force is recruiting a “drone manager” to head up a dedicated unit fighting crime with the flying devices.

Devon and Cornwall Police, which covers the largest geographic area of any force in England, will dispatch the technology to crime scenes to take pictures and gather information. Concerns have been raised about privacy and the possibility that police numbers could be cut as a result.

Other forces are also said to be considering using drones more frequently, for tasks like searching for missing people and suspects and responding to crashes on the roads.

They have already been used by officers for policing football games, with West Midlands Police using a drone with a camera to keep an eye on potential flashpoints during a derby clash last year.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on drones, told the Daily Mail numerous police forces are likely to turn to the technology because they are cheaper than helicopters.

Asked whether officer numbers could be cut as a result, he said it may be possible to “rationalise” what staff do, but added: “I think it’s a brave senior officer who will make that step that is going to cut cops because they have got drones.”

Chief Superintendent Jim Nye of Devon and Cornwall Police insisted there were no plans to cut officers.

Drones are being used as a policing tool Credit: John Giles /PA

Devon and Cornwall Police announced six month test of the technology, which they call “unmanned aerial systems” last year.

Inspector Andy Hamilton said at the time: “Using a drone to capture still or video images on difficult terrain and hard to reach areas such as cliffs, woodland or the moors to find a missing person, combat wildlife crime or even during a firearm incident, will allow officers to gain vital information, quickly and safely and allow us to respond effectively at the scene.”

Source: The Telegraph UK