UK Police Powers to Combat Illegal Drone Use UK

Following the disruption to Gatwick Airport in December 2018 by an illegally operated drone and a widely acknowledged public distrust of drone operations, the Police are to receive additional powers and resources to allow them to combat illegal and dangerous drone use.

It was announced that a mobile counter drone unit is to be established which will be equipped with the technology to track down and interfere with devices that are reported to be acting illegally or dangerously in UK skies.

It is the goal of the Home Office to ‘deter, detect and disrupt the misuse of drones’ as well as clamping down on the use of drones to smuggle contraband into prisons.  The new Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill was announced in the Queen’s speech which will additionally give the Police additional powers to stop and search suspected drone users to ensure that they are acting both safely and responsibly as well as in accordance with the law.

The public will be encouraged to report incidences of drone misuse and a public information campaign will be launched in the Summer of 2020 to try to keep people informed about what the law is regarding UAVs.  Prosecutions for drone offences will be more widely publicised in the hope that this acts as a deterrent to potential offenders and to reduce the opportunity for people to claim ignorance of the law.

Alongside this additional resource being made available to the Police, Heathrow and Gatwick are also investing millions of pounds into counter drone technology to try to and avoid a report of the airport disruption that they have suffered in the past.

These measures are published at the same time as the additional measures of online competency training and registration become mandatory for all drone pilots.  This is the result of a double pronged attack aimed at creating safer skies for all users as well as leveraging the potential economic benefits of drone technology to the UK economy – estimated by PWC to be in the region of £42bn by 2030.