Unmanned drones with surveillance cameras will fly above London during next year's Olympic Games as the Metropolitan Police tries to increase the number of "eyes in the sky" available to officers.
Sources have told i that the Met has been in discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority over whether they can use small, radio- controlled devices in built-up areas.
Next year's Olympics will be the force's biggest security operation as tens of thousands of athletes and millions of visitors flock to the games in Stratford. Its Air Support Unit already has three Eurocopter EC145 helicopters based at Lippitts Hill, Essex. The aircraft are fitted with an array of high definition cameras and thermal imaging equipment but officers believe small drones will give them the extra capacity to monitor multiple major events.
The use of surveillance drones among Britain's police forces has had mixed results. At least four constabularies – Staffordshire, Essex, Merseyside and British Transport Police – are known to have used or trialled drones, which are usually little more than a remote controlled mini-helicopter, left, equipped with state-of-the-art cameras. But only one – Staffordshire – still uses one.
Last week the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond suggested that surface-to-air missiles could be deployed at the games. It has also been reported that RAF snipers will watch over events in helicopters.