Dorset, Devon and Cornwall police forces are set to start using drones, as part of a six-month trial to see if the devices could help in police work.
The trial began on Monday in Devon and Cornwall, and is set to start in Dorset at the end of November.
Police hope that the drones, which are fitted with HD cameras, could help in searches for missing people and in crime scene photography.
The Cornwall and Devon forces have two DJI Inspire 1 drones at their disposal - these £2,000 quadcopters are considered professional-quality devices, and come equipped with a stabilised 4K camera.
Dorset Police will also be able to use a £500 Phantom 2+ drone as well as the more expensive model.
The force was keen to point out that the drones were a complement, not a replacement for the National Police Air Service - both of the drones can only be flown for around 20 minutes at a time before running out of battery, so they would prove fairly useless in a longer search.
However, they have their uses in areas where police helicopters can't reach.
Inspector Andy Hamilton of Dorset Police, who is leading the trials, said: "Using a drone to capture footage on difficult terrain and hard to reach areas such as cliffs or woodland to find a missing person, combat wildlife crime or even a firearm incident, will allow officers to gain vital information quickly and safely, and will allow us to respond effectively at the scene."
Each force has three officers trained in the use of the drones, and could train more if the trial turns out to be a success
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