Unmanned drones are “undoubtedly” being used to “harass people” and for other kinds of “criminal conduct”, the UK police have told a government inquiry.
Speaking at the Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Committee, Chief Inspector Nick Aldworth – who is working as a part of a national group to look at the increasing use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems [RPAS] – said that such drones could be used in “reckless” or “malicious” ways.
However, he also asserted that privacy issues over the possibility of drones, say, “hovering outside people’s bedrooms for nefarious reasons” were not a police matter, as such an act would not be against the law as it currently stands.
Aldworth admitted there was a increasing amount of drone footage appearing on the internet, but added that the difficulty is in finding who is responsible for posting it.
If a drone “whizzes past your window and catches something that you would rather it didn’t catch”, said Aldworth, it would be difficult for the police to intervene unless they arrived immediately.
A way of finding a “sensible application” of existing laws is now necessary, explained Aldworth, as currently only air navigation rules can truly be contravened by flying drones, and this does not apply in all areas – or types – of use.
“We have undoubtedly seen [drones] flown in controlled airspace, we have undoubtedly seen [them] used to harass people, and we have seen [drones] flown in contravention of the air navigation orders, so I think that concern arises by the fact that there is clearly a means of offending that we do not seem to be able necessarily to address quickly,” said Aldworth, who also said drones had been used to “embarrass” both VIPs and members of the public.
Privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office issue a privacy warning about drones in October 2014.
Internet mail order firm Amazon.co.uk is gearing up to begin trials using the devices for home deliveries in Cambridge.
Domino’s Pizza CIO Colin Rees also recently told Computing that the firm is looking into using drones to deliver pizza.