Concerns on the use of drones increases in South Yorkshire

Calls to South Yorkshire Police regarding drones have more than doubled from 2016/17
Calls to South Yorkshire Police regarding drones have more than doubled from 2016/17
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Figures show that there has been a huge increase in drone related calls to South Yorkshire Police

Over the last two years there has been nearly an 118% increase in calls from the public to South Yorkshire police forces concerning drones, according to figures disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The increase in calls has gone up from 62 in 2016 to 135 calls last year.

Whilst the UK has an 32% average increase in calls, there are wide variations between individual forces, with forces such as Derbyshire reporting a decrease in calls.

However it seems that the overall number is likely to be even higher across the country with some police forces unable to provide the information.

South Yorkshire Police reported that the largest number of their calls related to drones flying over residential and public property, of which 68 calls were recorded.

These calls related to possible privacy violations, noise concerns and included calls with concerns about drones being used for criminal purposes.

Other categories of calls that South Yorkshire Police received included 15 relating to theft of drones, five relating to drones being flown near schools or in the vicinity of children and, 23 were made by professional drone flyers who were advising the police of the particular locations they were flying in.

However, perhaps more alarmingly six of the calls made to South Yorkshire Police were relating to the use of drones flying contraband into prisons, and this is one of the drone related issues that has been troubling the government.

The recent figures concerning the level of drone related calls is certain to reinforce the government’s belief in the need for additional regulation, and is something that is set to be introduced into parliament in the form of a Bill addressing the use of drones.

The Bill will include a compulsory registration for drones weighing in excess of 250 grams, and a requirement that drone flyers take a basic online test to ensure they understand the law, and safety of flying drones.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Criminal Misuse of Drones, Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: "Police forces are aware of the ever increasing use of drones by members of the public and we are working with all relevant partners to understand the threats that this new technology can pose when used irresponsibly or illegally.

"Do not take this lightly – if you use a drone to invade people’s privacy or engage in disruptive behaviour, you could face serious criminal charges."

The draft Drone Bill will be published this spring, and will give police officers the right to order operators to ground drones where necessary.

They will also be able to seize drone parts in order to prove it has been used to commit and offence.

Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: "Drones have great potential and we want to do everything possible to harness the benefits of this technology as it develops.

"But if we are to realise the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns."

All this comes just after South Yorkshire police revealed they were in the trial stages of using police drone in their mission to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour according to spokesman.