Both the Daily Mail and the Independent have both reported that Chief Constable Alex Marshall has stated that it would be a cheaper and more efficient to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or so-called drones rather than manned aircraft to police British skies. Specifically, the Chief Constable stated:
We don’t use them in mainstream policing at the moment but they may well offer something for the future. They can stay up longer, they’re cheaper, they can do things that you can’t do having people in the air.
However, he was quick to add that:
The debate that still needs to be had – it might be cost- effective, you might be able to keep it up longer, but is it acceptable to the citizens of the UK to have them in the air?
Of course, its not acceptable to privacy advocates who worry about “Big Brother” watching them (then again, “Big Brother” is already watching you if you are in Central London…) and currently the only UAVs or drones approved for use are small radio-controlled devices that are only allowed to go up to 400 ft in the air and up to 1,600 ft away from the on-ground “pilot” who must maintain visual contact with them at all times. There are also potential issues with operating UAVs or drones when civilian aircraft are around.
Hence, we want to know what any UK based pilot reader thinks about the use of police UAVs or drones in British airspace: Should they be allowed and if so, what restrictions (if any) should be place on their usage? Feel free to tell us in the comments section.