Police drones trial at Gatwick Airport meets with fierce criticism

Drone
Katy Bourne said the drone still had to pass a series of tests before it would be approved for widespread use. Photo: Daybreak/ITV

Sussex Police are piloting a surveillance scheme which could revolutionise the way crimes are recorded amid criticisms the scheme could be an invasion of privacy.

The force has been using unmanned aircrafts systems or drones to fly over Gatwick airport so they can see exactly what is going on.

High-quality pictures are beamed back to officers using a portable console, up to 500 metres away.

Police say this allows them to quickly assess locations and film incidents from above.

They also believe it is more cost effective than the equivalent - filming incidents from a helicopter.

Katy Bourne
Katy Bourne said the drone still had to pass a series of tests before it would be approved for widespread use. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

This is a three month pilot to see how it pans out.

But obviously it has got to be able to fly in quite high winds. It has got to be able to fly in rain.

– Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex

However, civil liberties groups questioned the "pressing need" for drones and argued there was already enough CCTV around Gatwick airport.

Emma Carr
Big Brother Watch's Emma Carr wondered if the current CCTV would be replaced by the drone. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

I want to know what the pressing need is for this drone.

So is this an admission that the CCTV around Gatwick Airport - and I should imagine there are tens, if not hundreds - is that an admission they are not working? Are they going to be taken away and replaced with a drone?

I think there needs to be a justifiable and pressing need, as the CCTV regulation says at the moment, and that hasn't really been spelt out.

– Emma Carr, Big Brother Watch