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The drones are helping in missing person searches, crime scene photography and responding to traffic collisions.

Two police forces in the South West have set up the UK’s first operational drone squad to fight crime.

Forces up and down the country have been trialling the use of the mini aircraft as a cheaper alternative to helicopters for a number of roles.

But now Devon and Cornwall police and the Dorset force have combined to launch a unit which will eventually have 40 officers trained to fly the drones.

At £2,000 each, compared with £800 an hour for a helicopter, it’s easy to see why police accountants like the DJI Inspire 1s drone option, but senior officers say the new unit will add flexibility and speed to a range of operations.