UK police set to get more powers to deal with illegal drone use


(Pocket-lint) – New incoming legislation is set to give police more powers to manage and proactively deal with illegal drone use.

This comes in the wake of the recent incident at Gatwick airport, where flights were grounded for more than 36 hours after drones were reported to be flying illegally in the airspace. 

The recently announced amendments to the Air Navigation Order will no doubt be welcomed by many. Not least of which will be the police forces who are set to deal with the problems. 

The official release states that the “New legislation will give police officers the power to land drones, search premises and seize drones and will require users to produce the proper documentation.”

This action is intended to help police prevent drone misuse that might put lives and property in danger. 

Under these new rules, the government says the police will also have the power to “…seize drones including electronic data stored within the device — where a serious offence has been committed and a warrant is secured.” 

The powers will also include the ability to issue fixed penalty notices with fines of up to £100 for minor drone-related offences. 

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However, the real aim of these changes is to combat serious problems around areas like airports similar to the issues that happened recently. 

Another proposed change includes a “significant extension” of the space around airports and runways where drones are currently banned from flying. This rule was introduced in May 2018 and restricted drone use to within 1 kilometre or above 400 feet of airport boundaries. This is now being extended to 5km from the end of runways to ensure the protection of take-off and landing pathways. 

From November 2019, drone users will also be required to register in order to comply with the law if their drone weighs between 250g and 20kg.

Drone manufacturing giant DJI has commented on the changes saying that the proposed reforms “strike a sensible balance between protecting critical infrastructure” and allowing “the public at large to enjoy the benefits of drone technology.”

Christian Struwe, Head of Policy at DJI EMEA said: “We are pleased to see that the new rectangular restriction zones around airport runway approach paths address the risk at airports in a way similar to the latest version of DJI’s geofencing technology.” 

The company has also said it will “continue to offer technical assistance and comply with appropriate requests from police and aviation authorities.”

The UK government is also looking to begin testing counter-drone technology to prevent future incidents – whether deliberate or accidental.  

Writing by Adrian Willings. Originally published on .

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