Gatwick drones: Some of the airport sightings may have been police equipment
Some of the drone sightings near Gatwick during the airport shutdown may have belonged to police, it has emerged.
Sussex Chief Constable Giles York made the admission as he said he felt “really sorry” over an innocent couple being held for 36 hours in connection with the disruption.
He insisted he was “absolutely certain” a rogue drone caused the three-day pre-Christmas chaos, but added confusion could have been caused as “we launched our own drones to investigate”.
Mr York told Radio 4 that grounds for holding Paul Gait and Elaine Kirk, of Crawley, West Sussex, had been “well-founded” even though they said they felt violated by their arrest.
But his apology was only given to Mr Gait: “I am really sorry for what he went through.”
Police have not yet found the drone used to disrupt around 1,000 flights.
Two drones found near the airport have been ruled out of involvement.
Britain will be expected to up its game over airport security following the drone chaos at Gatwick Airport, according to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Cressida Dick said that disrupting flights using a drone was a serious crime and said that anybody charged would be likely to face a prison sentence.
Tens of thousands of people had their pre-Christmas travel plans ruined after around 1,000 Gatwick flights were cancelled or diverted across three days last week following reports of drones being spotted inside the airport perimeter.
Ms Dick insisted that dealing with drones is a "challenging thing" and that countries around the world are struggling to keep up with the changing technology.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The drone technology is always changing – we have to keep up with that.
"There are a whole variety of tactics and technologies that we are now using, can use and in the future they will have to change again I'm sure but it is quite difficult.
"It's a very serious crime and anybody who does this can expect to be charged with serious offences and undoubtedly I think to face a prison sentence.
"I've been talking to colleagues around the world and I can tell you this is not an easy problem.
"We are doing our very best here and going into the future I'm sure, working closely with others, we will get better and better.
"But you won't find a police service in the world, I think, who is sitting complacently thinking we could always deal with a drone.
"You won't find it. It's a difficult challenge."