UK British police given sweeping powers to control drone usage
POLICE forces in Britain are to receive tough new powers to curb the illegal use of drones in the wake of the chaos caused by a pair of runaway drones that prompted the shutdown of London Gatwick airport just ahead of Christmas
POLICE forces in Britain are to receive tough new powers to curb the illegal use of drones in the wake of the chaos caused by a pair of runaway drones that prompted the shutdown of London Gatwick airport just ahead of Christmas.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement: 'The disruption caused by drones to flights at Gatwick airport last month was deliberate, irresponsible and calculated, as well as illegal. It meant days of chaos and uncertainty for over 100,000 passengers at Christmas, one of the busiest times of the year.'
He added: 'I am clear that, when caught, those responsible should face the maximum possible custodial sentence for this hugely irresponsible criminal act.
'I want to assure the House that my department is working extremely closely with airports, the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Civil Aviation Authority and the police to make sure our national airports are fully prepared to manage any repeat of what was an unprecedented incident.'
The proposed new powers include allowing the police to request evidence from drone users where there is reasonable suspicion of an offence being committed, as well as enabling the police to issue fixed penalty notices for minor drone offences, London's Air Cargo News reported.
Mr Grayling stressed: 'They will provide an immediate deterrent to those who might misuse drones or attempt to break the law.'
He continued: 'Today's measures set out the next steps needed to ensure that drones are used in a safe and secure way and that the industry is accountable. At the same time these steps will ensure that we harness the benefits that drones can bring to the UK economy.'
'The majority of drone users fly safely and responsibly but we must ensure that the police have the right powers to deal with illegal use.'
As a result of the Gatwick threat, the Ministry of Defence remains on standby to deal with any further problems at any UK airport if needed.
Mr Grayling added: 'We must also ensure that the most up-to-date technology is available to detect, track and potentially disrupt drones that are being used illegally, so we have also consulted on the further use of counter-drone technology. Those consultation responses will now be used by the Home Office to develop an appropriate means of using that technology in the UK.'