Radio-controlled aircraft trial extended in Sussex and Surrey

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Media captionLast year's Eastbourne Pier fire was filmed by a video journalist using a drone

Sussex and Surrey police forces have been given £250,000 to expand a trial of radio-controlled aircraft.

The trial of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at Gatwick Airport showed they could provide a quicker alternative to officer patrols, Sussex Police said.

The drones can send high-quality pictures to police who can control the aircraft with a portable console from up to 500m (546 yds) away.

Five UAVs will be bought to explore how they could benefit forces nationally.

UAVs are used to gather evidence from the air and could help with searches for missing or wanted people, a Sussex Police spokesman said.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said: "Some of the benefits of the UAV system have already been demonstrated during the relatively short period that we have had the equipment for.

"They can go to places where it is unsafe for officers and can gather evidence quickly that could be vital in an investigation or that could help us deploy officers to the right places at the right time, potentially allowing us to make life-saving decisions."

The Home Office has awarded the forces the money from the Police Innovation Fund.

In May 2014, the force said drones could have helped the force assist people affected by the winter floods.

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