Surge in drone complaints as annoyance grows


Drones are at the centre of a flood of reports being made to police in the UK, amid a dramatic surge in incidents.

The number of complaints has rocketed between 2014 and 2016, according to Press Association figures.

Last year, police recorded 3,456 incidents – about 10 a day and almost triple the 2015 figure of 1,237. The 2014 figure was just 283.

These include neighbour-to-neighbour rows, crime, general annoyance and close calls with passenger planes.

Not all police forces were able to submit data on the drone cases so the real number could be much higher.

Sussex Police recorded the highest number of drone-related incidents last year, with 240, followed by Greater Manchester at 225.

Professor David H Dunn, of Birmingham University, said drones posed a “major challenge” to people wanting to maintain their privacy.

He said: “Previously you had a hedge, you had a wall and you could do whatever you wanted in your garden without people disturbing you.

“That has changed because of drones.

“Anecdotally I’ve heard that burglars using drones is a big issue for police forces.

“People are using them to fly behind properties to see if the lights are on, to see what sort of French windows they have or whether there are windows open.”

Among the cases are complaints from neighbours, including one where a man said his neighbour was flying a drone “just to annoy” him.

Among complaints were reports of drugs being dropped into prisons and a burglary was reported after a drone was seen hovering over houses.

Members of the public have also contacted police to report drones being used for snooping, such as a complaint about a drone said to have flown over a garden a number of times while girls were sunbathing.

There have also been several instances of drones being spotted near aircraft, something that could potentially cause a dangerous – if not fatal – crash.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for drones, said: “As awareness of what drones are and what they can do continues to grow, police forces have seen increases in concerns and reports by the public.

“We have to balance the growth of this technology by ensuring that the public are aware of the strong regulatory framework and detailed user guidance that is available relating to drone use.”