“We are confident these police powers will be used proportionately…”
This week the government is moving forward with the preparation of new legislation that will give increased drone inspection and seizure powers to law enforcement agencies within the UK.
The legalisation, currently moving into its second reading in parliament, will grant police forces the power to land and inspect unmanned aircraft if they believe an offence has been committed.
Last year the UK brought in new drone laws which stipulated that owners of drones weighing more than 250g must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Under that legislation unregistered drone operators could be fined £2,500 for illegally flying an unregistered drone or they could be fined for breaking the set maximum altitude of 400 feet.
So far, over 80,000 drone users have registered with the CAA.
Under the new legislation passing through parliament police officers would be able to issue direct fines to drone users who cannot provide the correct documentation, or have flown to high or close to a building.
Security Minister Brandon Lewis commented in a release that: “This bill is a vital part of the government’s strategy to tackle the illegitimate use of drones and protect the UK’s growing drone industry. For the UK to establish itself as a global leader in this exciting technology it is vital that police have the powers to crack down on those who intend to use drones to cause harm or disruption.”
Drones and Airports
The new legislation is also aiming to give UK law enforcement greater powers around the use of drones in proximity to airports and prisons. The proposed powers around restricted zones follows high profile disruptive events involving drones at Heathrow and Gatwick airport.
In December of 2018, Gatwick airport was forced to close all of its runways after two drones were spotted within its airspace. The airport essentially was forced to shut down for the remainder of the day, an action that disrupted 760 flights and affected more than 110,000 passengers.
At the time of the Gatwick incident law enforcement had little legal power to tackle drone operators resulting in the slew of legislation that is now being created around the regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Transport Minister Baroness Vere commented that: “Most people using drones want to do so responsibly, and we encourage them to familiarise themselves with the law. We are confident these police powers will be used proportionately to both deter careless drone use and to tackle serious, malicious criminal activity.”