Police in Greater Manchester plan to use artificial intelligence roadside cameras to detect people scrolling and messaging on phones while driving.

The force say the "spy in the sky" technology will not only be able to spot those with a phone to their ear but those using handsets lower down in the vehicle.

The technology, which can also detect those not wearing a seatbelt, is currently being used on a trial basis in Greater Manchester on the M6 motorway, targeting heavy goods vehicle drivers to find out the scale of the issue.

Chief Inspector Michael Parker revealed the plans to use the technology on the region’s roads at a meeting of the Bee Network transport committee.

Giving an update to members on road safety, he said: “We’re working alongside Transport for Greater Manchester to see about sourcing artificial intelligence cameras on a trial basis with a company who will loan us the technology.

“They put the camera up and it just picks up people who are using mobile phones while driving.

“It’s very, very difficult to detect because you’ve got to be really stupid now to be driving with a phone to your ear.

“That’s not the way people do it any more.

“Phones are used in lower down in hand to scroll and message people.”

The chief inspector gave more details on a current trial on the region’s motorway network.

He said: “There’s a trial on the M6 motorway at the moment going through Greater Manchester which is monitoring HGV drivers.

“They’re not actually enforcing it from a prosecution point of view, but it’s monitoring the scale of the problem.

“They will report back to the transport commissioner.”

The use of mobile devices while driving was outlawed 20 years ago today, December 1, 2003.

It was made illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet or any device that can send or receive data, while driving.

The current penalties were increased earlier this year to a £200 fine and six penalty points.

Despite that, Chief Insp Parker said that in his experience, people were still choosing to ignore the law.

He said: “Mobile phone usage is one of our priorities.

“There have been increases of the penalties for using a mobile phone but it doesn’t seem to be having an impact.” A similar trial of the camera technology took place on selected routes in Devon and Cornwall last October.

In the first couple of weeks the cameras found 590 people not wearing seatbelts and 40 people using a mobile device.