PCC welcomes new powers for enforcing drone laws


The government has acted to give police forces across the country new powers to tackle the misuse of unmanned aircraft, including drones, as the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill has its second reading in Parliament today (27 January 2020).

The legislation will give the police new powers to land, inspect and seize drones if an offence has been committed and a warrant is secured.

Drone users could also face an on the spot fine for certain offences such as failing to provide evidence that they have the correct permissions and exemptions if found to be flying their device too high or too close to buildings, or failing to provide evidence of competency or registration.

One Force who knows better than most the costly consequences of a drone attack is Sussex Police. In December 2018 a targeted drone attack caused major disruption at Gatwick Airport.

More than 100,000 people and 1,000 flights were affected when the airport authority made the decision to shut down for 30 hours, just days before Christmas, after sightings of drones above its airfield.

Known as Operation Trebor, the full operation involved more than 800 police officers from seven police forces, as well as advisors from the military and the private sector.

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has welcomed these planned new powers to better enable officers to enforce drone laws.

“There has been significant international learning taken from the incident at Gatwick. It was the first attack of its kind in the country and it could have happened anywhere. Everyone’s main concern when events like this take place is that the public are kept safe and nobody gets hurt.

“Airports around the world have benefitted from the hard lessons we learned here. The advancement in Parliament of these extra powers is welcome. They should allow officers to better enforce drone laws and take quick action to seize and inspect those being used for criminal activity before they cause too much disruption or endanger people.”

Sussex Police’s Chief Constable, Giles York, said the incident in Sussex “exposed gaps in the range of counter-drone measures available at the time.”

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