Devon and Cornwall Police are set to become the first police force in the United Kingdom to launch a 24-hour camera drone unit.

The police force will share the drone unit with Dorset, which will be launched in the summer and Devon and Cornwall Police have advertised for a new drone manager to lead the unit.

The drones will be used by the largest police force in the UK to locate missing criminals, take pictures and help with gathering information into major crime investigations.

Devon and Cornwall announced a six-month test of the device last year, which they called “unmanned aerial systems”.

The device was originally trialled back in November 2015 to test its operational effectiveness, acquiring four DJI Inspire 1 drones equipped with high-definition cameras, but now, the drones will be operating more frequently to tackle crime.

Drone bills will be slashed for forces. A drone can be bought for as little as £1,000, whereas a helicopter flight costs an average of £1,266.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesperson on drones, said the use of remote-controlled devices would allow forces to “rationalise” their resources.

“I would not be at all surprised if other forces follow in due course – the question is not whether they will, it’s when.

“There may be an opportunity at some point in the future to rationalise what we need our cops to do because we find drones can do it more effectively and more cost-efficiently…an example of that would be looking for missing people.”

Officers around the United Kingdom have already used a drone with a camera to capture the major flashpoints of a football game during a derby clash last year.

Devon and Cornwall Police have told Truthfal that they are not currently in the position to discuss the force’s drone unit further at this time.