MISSING person investigations are being boosted by drone technology providing an eye in the sky for Wiltshire Police.

Volunteer officers led the campaign to bring drones into the force and were given the Outstanding Innovation and Creativity award at the Wiltshire Police Force awards ceremony.

Body heat cameras are fitted to drones to scan large areas and help locate vulnerable people without using a costly police helicopter.

As well as being awarded for long service, special sergeant Dan England is part of the team who developed the most impressive drone operating manuals ever approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Special Sgt England, 31, said: “With missing person investigations we really get results.

“We had someone who was quite depressed and had taken large amounts of insulin and alcohol and had gone to a field and lay down and basically wait to die. We used the drone and body temperature technology to find him and send officers over to help him.

“We get around five to 10 missing people reports every day and most of the time they are mental health or drug related.

"The drone is our eye in the sky and is genuinely a lifesaving tool. At the beginning some people had issues with privacy but there is no invasion and it saves lives.”

Special Sgt England joined Wiltshire police in 2008 and also works at police HQ in the communications team. special inspector Guy Sanders, special inspector Rachel Oaten and special inspector Andrew French also received the award.

Drones are used to locate people running away from stolen vehicles and assisting large festivals.

Their services are increasingly being used for counter terror and firearms operations, and even murder enquires.

The team is the only police drone unit run entirely by special constables in the UK. The praise gained from the CAA meant that work began just two weeks after submitting their proposal, compared to the standard 90 day wait.

Over 5000 hours of coverage has been used since it launched in January 2017.