Home News New police powers to tackle illegal use of drones unveiled by Department for Transport

New police powers to tackle illegal use of drones unveiled by Department for Transport

by Brian Sims

The Government is moving forward with plans to give police new powers to tackle drones misuse and abuse with the publication of its considered response to the drones consultation exercise. 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.

Following over 5,000 responses to the consultation, new legislation will give police officers the additional power to land drones and require users to produce the proper documentation. The police will have the power to search premises and seize drones — including electronic data stored within the device — where a serious offence has been committed and a warrant is secured.

The Home Office will also begin to test and evaluate the safe use of a range of counter-drone technology in the UK. This crucial technology will deter drones from flying around sensitive sites, including airports and prisons, and develop a range of options to respond to drones, in turn helping to prevent a repeat of incidents such as that recently experienced at Gatwick Airport.

Important safety proposals being taken forward include better protection for airports by significantly extending the area around them and runways in which drones are banned from being flown. This builds on the Government’s changes to the law last year which made it illegal to fly a drone above 400 feet or within 1 kilometre of an airport.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has made a detailed statement in the House of Commons.

Aviation minister Liz Sugg said: “Drones have the potential to bring significant benefits and opportunities, but with the speed of technological advancement comes risk. Safety and security must be our top priorities. That’s why we are giving the police powers to deal with those using drones irresponsibly. Along with additional safety measures, these powers will help to ensure the potential of this technology is harnessed in a responsible and safe way.”

The police will also be able to issue fixed-penalty notices for minor drone offences to ensure immediate and effective enforcement of vital rules. Fines of up to £100 could be given for offences such as failing to comply with a police officer when instructed to land a drone or not showing registration documents to operate a drone legally.

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