POLICE have been called out almost 300 times in two years to deal with people flying drones across the region.

Figures provided through the Freedom of Information Act show West Yorkshire officers received 53 more 999 calls last year compared to 2016 when the number stood at 114.

The nature of the emergency phone calls related to everything from people flying the remote-controlled devices close to homes and bedroom windows, to operating them next to high voltage electric cables and using their fitted cameras to allegedly record and take pictures of people.

The popularity of drones is increasing and small-scale versions without a camera do not require the owner to have a licence.

However, one shop which sells them – Menkind – says it gives out a Drone Code to everyone who buys one and that outlines where they can be flown safely, and tells the user they should not fly them next to police stations, prisons or high-rise buildings.

A member of staff said: “Drones are very popular and they are one of our biggest sellers in the remote-controlled categories.

“There are only a few people who come in to buy the camera-held drones because they are very expensive.

“A lot of people stick to the rules.

“We get a lot of people coming back saying they have crashed their drones, but it’s hard to tell where they might have been flying them.

“Drones are the modern-day remote-controlled helicopter.

“They are easy to use and can take-off and land by themselves.”

More drones are set to take to the skies this year after Bradford was picked to take part in the Flying High Challenge.

The district is one of only five areas across the UK chosen to pioneer different applications and the challenge will shape how the remote-controlled crafts could be used in the future.

The findings may be used to shape national policies as the drones will be tested to capture information from above immediately following emergency situations, such as floods, or to assess the structural safety of buildings in the aftermath of fires.

They may also provide thermal and visual surveys of premises to monitor energy efficiency, and be used to inspect historical structures.

Dr Alan McKenna, from the University of Kent, shared his Freedom of Information request.

He said he found that calls to police about drones had gone up by 32 per cent between 2016 and 2017 across the country.

A total of 4,543 calls were logged in 2017, up from 3,449 calls logged by the same 37 police forces in 2016.

Dr McKenna said: “The level of drone-related calls made to the police in 2017 is certain to reinforce the Government’s belief in the need for additional regulation, and this will indeed be arriving very shortly with a new Bill being introduced in Parliament addressing drone use.

“The Government has already flagged-up that the new Bill will include compulsory registration for drones weighing in excess of 250 grams and a requirement that drone flyers take a basic online test to ensure they have an understanding of the law and how to fly their drones safely.”