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Emergency services could get fleet of drones

Emergency services are set to get a helping hand in the form of drones.

The Bluelight Air Support Programme is reportedly set to be rolled out to help the police, fire brigades, the NHS and Border Force officers undertake their daily duties.

A source told the Daily Mail newspaper: "The technology exists and is in day-to-day use in the military. Drones can add a lot of value and are much cheaper than helicopters. The question is whether there's a will to replace helicopters with drones."

It is thought the drones could be used to search for people who are missing or suspects or be able to deliver equipment out in the field in emergencies.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs Council said: "There has been some early work but the programme is still in its initial stages."

It comes after police in south west England launched their first drone unit.

Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, commander for the Alliance Operations Department, said: "It's a historic step [for British policing]. This technology offers a highly cost-effective approach in supporting our officers on the ground in operational policing ...

"I think long term, it will be very cost effective to use the drones. The helicopter isn't always available and you want to have it available for life-threatening situations. This is not going to be a replacement to police officers, this is going to complement what we do. I think the public would expect that if we can get value for money with a drone over a helicopter, that we do so."

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