Police to get tough new anti-drone powers including on-the-spot fines

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Police will be given stop and search powers around airports and prisons in new drone legislation going through Parliament, the Government has announced.

Officers will be able to land, inspect and seize drones if an offence has been committed and a warrant is obtained, the Department for Transport said.

The Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill will amend the Police Act 1997 to allow the police and senior prison authorities to authorise the use of counter-drone measures to combat illegal drone use.

On the spot fines will be introduced for certain offences such as flying drones too high or close to buildings without permission, or failing to complete the online registration or safety test.

Since November 2019, it has been mandatory for operators of small unmanned aircraft to register themselves and take an online competency test.

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: "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."

The Bill will have its second reading in Parliament on Monday.

Security Minister Brandon Lewis said: "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 who intend to use drones to cause harm or disruption."

Drone sightings at Gatwick in December 2018 caused around 1,000 flights to be cancelled or diverted over 36 hours, affecting more than 140,000 passengers in the run-up to Christmas.

A number of other airports have been forced to suspend flights for several hours due to drone activity, including Heathrow.

The Bill will also give new powers to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to ensure airports modernise their airspace in a bid to make flights quicker and quieter, and reduce CO2 emissions.

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