DRONES will now be routinely used across the county in a bid to step up the fight against crime.

Dorset Police are in the process of launching Britain’s first 24-hour drone unit to pursue suspects, solve murders and help find missing people.

The force began trialling drones in November 2015 to test their operational effectiveness, using four devices with high-definition cameras.

They are used to help officers in their investigations by taking aerial photographs, recording videos and maps. They can be used in the search for missing people, wanted people and at crashes.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset Martyn Underhill and PC Ricky Fidler from the force's drones unit were guest speakers at an event at the Savoy Hotel in Bournemouth on Saturday to mark Neighbourhood Watch Week.

During the event PC Fidler gave a demonstration with the force's DJI Inspire drone. He also explained the ways they are an asset to the police including reducing officer hours in the search for missing people and also how they help narrow an area when searching for someone.

PC Fidler also said they will be paramount in reducing the number of hours a road is closed following a serious or fatal crash.

"The reason we have to close roads for so long after serious crashes is so that we can photograph every bit of evidence for the inquest. But using a drone at the scene to take pictures will likely reduce the time a road is closed by a couple of hours.

"The quality of the images makes it a real asset."

He also explained that there are still some issues with UAVs - unmanned aerial vehicles.

"One of the biggest frustrations is that the technology moves so quickly. Even in the last couple of years since we began trialling them, drones have come on massively," added PC Fidler.

Dorset’s PCC Martyn Underhill reiterated how important drones will be in saving "massive amounts of police time" and how he expects them to revolutionise policing.

“I’m delighted Dorset is at the forefront of this technology and I look forward to stepping into the next generation of drones in the near future.

"I believe, once we demonstrate their benefits, the public will be fully behind their use in helping keeping them safe.”