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13 March 2019, 16:13 | Updated: 13 March 2019, 17:28
An extended 'no fly zone' around Stansted airport will help to minimise disruption to passengers and prevent anti-social drone flying but Essex Police officers will be still using the unmanned technology to fight crime.
From today, Wednesday, March 13, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying restriction zone around any airport or airfield runway in the UK will be extended from one to five kilometres, meaning that no drones or model aircraft can be flown within this area.
However working alongside the airport operator, Manchester Airport Group (MAG) and the National Air Traffic Service (NATS), Essex Police have been given unique permissions to fly police drones within the restriction zone in order to prevent, detect and disrupt crime.
A team of officers have received specialist training to operate the Force's drones within the restriction zone. This will include regular police drone patrols which will be looking to detect various types of criminal activity around the airport such as criminal damage, car theft and suspicious behaviours.
Airport Commander Superintendent Richard Phillibrown said: "As technology evolves, so do the methods criminals use to commit crime.
“We are all aware of the disruption caused at Gatwick airport towards the end of last year after a drone was reported to have been seen near to the runway.
“Whilst this new initiative has been in planning for a while and has not come about as a direct result to the Gatwick incident, we recognise this issue may affect the day to day running of Stansted airport and
the safety of travelling passengers.
"We have been using drones across the force to detect, disrupt and investigate crime for the past two years and our plans to utilise the technology at Stansted Airport have been developed over the past 18-months.
"Thanks to the special permissions given to us by National Air Traffic Service (NATS), we are able to make use of drone technology to monitor the airport and the surrounding area, investigate suspicious behaviour and quickly respond to any concerns raised to either our officers or airport staff.
"This will not only assist in preventing and detecting crime, but also minimise potential disruption to passengers using the airport and provide an additional tool to policing the airport and preventing terrorism.
"We ask that the local community make themselves aware of the new no fly zone parameters, as anyone found to be in breach of this, may be prosecuted.
"For more information about UAV laws and regulations please visit the Essex Police website or www.dronesafe.uk"
London Stansted’s Operations Director, Nick Millar added: “We fully support the plans developed by Essex Police to utilise the Force’s drones at London Stansted to assist in the prevention and detection of any criminal activity at or near the airport.
“We also welcome the extension of the no fly zones around UK airports and the introduction of additional powers for the police.”