Police drones are grounded for breaking the law
When they first took off, the drones were hailed as the latest weapon in the war against crime.
But after police celebrated their first arrest thanks to one of the miniature remote-controlled helicopters, it emerged it was not only a suspected car thief who was potentially breaking the law.
The Air Robot was deployed in January after officers lost a suspect in thick fog.
Using an on-board camera and thermal-imaging technology, the operator was able to direct officers to a 16-year-old hiding in bushes alongside the Leeds-Liverpool canal.
The drone, which measures 3ft between the tips of its four carbon fibre rotor blades, uses unmanned aerial vehicle technology originally designed for military reconnaissance.
Merseyside Police is one of three forces trying out the £40,000 devices which are far cheaper to use than a conventional helicopter.
In August Derbyshire police used a similar drone to monitor protests at a BNP festival in Condor.
But the police seem to have been unaware of a change of legislation on January 1, following concerns over the safety of flying unmanned aircraft in inhabited areas.
A spokesman for Merseyside Police said: ‘The force has written to the CAA requesting they visit the force and inspect our UAV and its working procedures with a view of securing the licence at the earliest opportunity.’