A NEW drone will help catch crooks in the Wiltshire countryside.

Paid for by the National Farmers' Union and Historic England, the £2,069 Mavic 2 drone will be operated by Wiltshire Police's rural crime team.

Supt Phil Staynings, who is responsible for the rural crime team, said the new kit would help his officers cover larger tracts of land: “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.”

Mark Jeffery, chairman of NFU Wiltshire, 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.”

Historic England's Mark Harrison said the drone would send the message that heritage crime "will not be tolerated in Wiltshire".