UNMANNED surveillance drones will assist an 8,000-strong police force in guarding key sites in Northern Ireland during this summer's G8 summit, British commanders have said.
In addition to the 4,500 Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers and 3,500 officers from other UK forces who will be providing security at the height of the event in mid-June, the Irish police will be deploying its own resources to secure relevant locations south of the border, such as hotels and protest venues, senior PSNI officers explained.
The PSNI's oversight body - the Northern Ireland Policing Board - today gave approval for the purchase and use of three remote controlled aerial camera devices to help commanders overseeing a security operation that has been described as the biggest the region has ever witnessed.
The two-day meeting of the world's most powerful political leaders is being held in the lakeside Lough Erne Golf Resort in rural Co Fermanagh, but police believe many places across the UK and Ireland could be impacted by demonstrations.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay outlined details of the security planning at the Policing Board's monthly meeting in Belfast.
"Without doubt this is as big as we have ever done," he said of the operation.
"There are few events within the UK of this sort of size. The Olympics was a one-off for London - that was a huge event. This isn't the size of the Olympics but it's probably the next biggest type of event."