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Drone popularity sees complaints take off

Drone popularity sees complaints take off

Monday 04 September 2017

Drone popularity sees complaints take off

Monday 04 September 2017

Drone complaints made to the Police are on the rise, but Police say they are not a cause for concern.

Revealed due to a request under the Freedom of Information law, the number of complaints saw a dramatic rise between 2015 and 2016, jumping from 2 to 12. Police have already received 13 complaints in 2017, which could be explained by their wider availability in recent years.

Inspector Andy Bisson says that drones, which are also known "small unmanned aircraft", have become more accessible in the past few years, as they have become more reasonably priced. He told Express: "It is an up and coming thing. They used to be very expensive but now you can pick various drones for a small amount of money." 

However, wider availability does not got with better understanding of the "drone code". Most of the complains came from individuals who were concerned about potential breaches of their privacy after seeing the machines fly over their properties. Some were worried about the possibility of the apparatus colliding with something else.

Drone code

Pictured: Athough they are used for entertainment, drones are subject to strict rules.

Since records began in 2014, a total of 28 complaints were made, with 25 of them made since January 2016 alone. Police have investigated each complaint to determine the issues, but more often than not, it appeared that a lack of understanding of the rules was to blame. Therefore, since 2014, officers have been educating people on the drone code, which stipulates, for example, that drones fitted with cameras should not be flown within 50m of people, vehicles and properties or 150m from towns, villages or outdoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

Inspector Bisson explained: "A majority of people do not know what they can and can't do with their drones and use them without full knowledge of the law. People who use them professionally do it quite lawfully but it's sometimes younger people, who use drones as social fun to film themselves or their friends, that we need to talk to. We try to work with people and give them a word of advice to educate them. Any encounter that we have, we log it on our system so that if someone didn't follow the advice, we would be more robust, but that hasn't happened. The reception to our talks have been quite good."

While most of the complaints were easy to deal with, some were more concerning as they involved people flying drones close to the airport. According to the Air Navigation Law, it is forbidden to fly a drone higher than 122m or within 2 nautical miles of the airport without a permission from Air Traffic Control. Inspector Bisson said that those situations carry greater risks as drones could potentially be flying close to aircrafts, but there hasn't been such issues in Jersey, as people were just using the drones close to the airport but not causing any harm. However, Inspector Bisson insisted that the Force were working with Ports of Jersey to ensure that the strict restrictions are observed.

jersey airport_1937_building.jpg

Pictured: Inspector Bisson explained that flying drones over the airport is strictly forbidden, given that drones flying near aircrafts can pose extreme risks.

While drones do not seem to be causing too much concern to the Jersey Force, Inspector Bisson says that they have been more of a nuisance in Guernsey. Les Nicolles Prison announced In May that they were installing anti-drone technology that disables the devices and prevents them from flying over the premises and making airborne deliveries.

It is not clear if Jersey Is planning on following suit and on installing any similar devices at the prison or elsewhere. While the question was asked as part of the Express FOI request, the information was qualified exempt, as it would likely prejudice "law enforcement authorities’ abilities to prevent, detect or investigate crime, and to apprehend and prosecute offenders."


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