Reports of criminal drone use have fortunately been limited recently. However, all CLA members should be vigilant about unexpected and unauthorised drone use as they can be used to gather intelligence for serious criminality.
Suspicious drone activity may be reported to neighbours and through your local Country Watch scheme if you are part of one, as well as to your neighbourhood policing team.
It’s worth acknowledging that landowners are just as likely to make use of drones for business purposes, ranging from surveying to wedding photography, as they are to face issues from others. We therefore urge all drone pilots to ensure that they have the correct documentation in place for the types of flights they are conducting – failure to do so is a criminal offence. Civil Aviation Authority guidance on this topic is somewhat disjointed, so please do contact the CLA if assistance is needed.
Another aspect for farmers and land managers to note is that drones are valuable technology and could be appealing targets for rural theft – especially larger systems suited to commercial use. Drones (like all valuable equipment or tools) should as a matter of course be kept locked up and stored out of sight, and forensically marked.
Most drones require an operator ID to be both displayed on them and registered with the Civil Aviation Authority, which may aid detection in case of theft. However, registering all drones on a dedicated service such as immobilise.com may further help with this.
For further advice on this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact your regional CLA office. Plus, stay tuned for our upcoming guidance note, soon to be released to address criminal drone use and much more.