Devon and Cornwall Police are preparing to launch their latest weapon against football violence this weekend – drones.
The Plymouth Argyle v Exeter City derby regularly sees crowd trouble and additional police units are being deployed for the clash at Home Park on Saturday.
The game has been rated as a Category C by police – one rating below the highest category – and in the past up to 200 officers have been called on duty.
The operation is expected to include mounted officers, police dog unit, helicopter and – for the first time – a drone to identify potential trouble-makers.
Earlier this month Devon and Cornwall Police began a six-month trial with the unmanned flying object which could be used for hunting missing people, taking pictures of suspects and at crime scenes.
They are now able to call upon the services of two DJI Inspire 1 Drones equipped with high definition (HD) cameras which can capture both video and still images.
The force has three trained drone pilots and there are plans to train further officers should the trial prove to be a success.
One pilot is Inspector Andy Hamilton who said: “The drones have a HD downlink which means officers on the ground can see live footage captured by the drone in the air.
“It can stay in the air for up to 18 minutes at a time before returning to the operator to change batteries.
“Each drone has several batteries and therefore can be kept operational for a prolonged period of time if required.”