HARE coursers, poachers and thieves had better watch out as a spy in the sky is now following their activities from today in Wiltshire.

The county's Rural Crime team has launched a new drone today. The Mavic 2 drone, which will be exclusively used to tackle rural crime around Wiltshire, has been funded by the National Farmers Union and Historic England.

As 80 per cent of the Wiltshire’s land is farmed and much of it is away from main roads finding criminals can be very difficult. Rural Crime Team officers can launch this new drone quickly during unfolding incidents instead of having to wait for support from colleagues who could be anywhere across Wiltshire.

Force Operations Superintendent Phil Staynings, who oversees the Rural Crime Team said: “The Force is always looking for new ways to embrace technology to support operational policing and we are really grateful for this support and funding from our partners.

“Whereas the wider force already has drone capability, this new drone will be another excellent tool for tackling criminality that specifically affects our isolated rural communities.

“Being able to cover large areas of land quickly means there will be nowhere for criminals hide.

“It can gather aerial footage of the damage caused to farm land which can be used as evidence to support prosecutions.

“The drone is going to really help our officers disrupt the criminals that plague our farms and rural businesses, such as hare coursers. The message is clear - rural crime will not be tolerated in Wiltshire.”

NFU Wiltshire chairman Mark Jeffery said: “This sophisticated equipment that the NFU has given to the rural crime team in Wiltshire will allow the police to react quickly to incidents in the countryside and gather better, more useful evidence to help bring criminals to justice.”

Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime Strategy for Historic England said: “We are pleased to provide a grant towards this new drone which will extend and enhance the ability of officers to prevent crime in rural areas and will help them to identify offenders and their vehicles. The use of a drone will provide a powerful tool in the fight against heritage crime and sends a clear message that it will not be tolerated in Wiltshire.”