NEW high-tech drones will be keeping on top of crime suspects in the West Midlands - after being funded through other crooks.

The very latest 'eye in the sky’ technology is being used by West Midlands Police as a proactive crime-fighting tool.

The three new drones, which are fitted with high definition cameras and thermal imaging technology, will help cops cover more ground from a higher vantage point of up to 400 ft high.

They will be initially trialled in Birmingham and used in response to crime trends; helping to spot suspicious behaviour over huge areas such as parkland, canal towpaths and large car parks.

Cops who have received extensive training in flying the drones will then be able to call for back-up to speak to any people of concern.

Seven bobbies from the Force Support Unit are now qualified as 'pilots’ and fully versed on the safe and legal use of the equipment. This includes strict restrictions on not being flown too close to residential properties.

The new crime-fighting approach has been funded by almost £29,000 from the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is cash which is recovered from criminals at court and must be spent on crime prevention or community projects.

The move builds on the success of a force drone used during football matches to monitor crowd flow and help identify anyone causing trouble.

Chief Superintendent Danny Long said: "We have seen the success of a drone in capturing clear, high definition video to assist the force in policing games.

"We have had a lot of positive comments from the public around this and we are keen to further explore their use in a more proactive crime-fighting role.

"We are always looking to be innovative in the way we work with the aim of keeping our streets safe and catching criminals."

All of the devices are capable of recording the images they capture and the footage is secure.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, added: “These three new drones are a fantastic new tool which can be used by West Midlands Police to fight crime.

“They can go where officers can’t and, as such, will help ensure our officers stay one step ahead of those who choose to flout the law.

“What’s more, it’s great that these high-tech devices have been paid for using ill-gotten gains seized from criminals."

If successful, the drones could also be used to tackle anti-social behaviour like people riding scrambler bikes across parkland.

To see what the drones have been up to, follow @dronewmp on Twitter.