Using remote control drones instead of helicopters could be a way of saving Suffolk Police money, their commissioner has said.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore suggested the change at a Suffolk County Council meeting last week in a bid to cut the force’s £800,000 annual bill to the National Police Air Service for air support.
Mr Passmore also fears that when the NPAS moves its helicopter base from Wattisham to Essex in two years, it would mean extra journey time for operational work in Suffolk and possibly extra cost.
He said: “The fact is the amount we are being asked to pay NPAS is unacceptable, I have discussed this with Acting Chief Constable, Gareth Wilson and he understands the position.
“As the primary budget holder we must have a far better deal for Suffolk.
“Whether that is with fixed-wing aircraft, using a drone for some surveillance work - or boosting the dog unit to help with searches. The status quo cannot continue.
“We will continue to negotiate the best deal possible, but can reassure the people of Suffolk that public safety will be key to any decision made.”
Other police forces have already tested unmanned drones for surveillance work but as yet none have replaced the work of a police helicopter.