Parliament Street Research featured in the Daily Mail

Saturday 18th May 2019

Today, the Daily Mail reported on important research conducted by Parliament Street on the misuse of drones.

The story can be found online here


Alternatively, you can read it below:


Britain’s drone crime explosion: Police complaints soar to six a day amid fears the devices are being used to spy on children and homes

  • Drone-related crimes in England and Wales rose by 45 per cent in just two years
  • Figures show that reported drone incidents now number more than six a day
  • Drones are also being used for stalking and scoping out targets for burglaries 

Britain is facing an explosion in drone crimes, with reported incidents now numbering more than six a day – a rise of 45 per cent in three years.

The devices are being used for harassment, stalking, burglary, drugs supply and voyeurism.

Victims’ main concern is that drones spy on them, flying over properties or watching children at schools. There were 63 reports involving playgrounds and nurseries in eight police force areas alone between 2016 and 2018.

Dozens more complaints have cited drones appearing to follow children in parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and even children’s homes.

The number of reported drone-related crimes in England and Wales rose by 45 per cent from 1,518 in 2016 to 2,204 in 2018. 

But the true figure is probably much higher as only 20 forces were able to provide figures under Freedom of Information requests.

The data, obtained by the Parliament Street think-tank, shows that head teachers, school staff and local residents have complained of children being ‘peeped’ at. 

In one instance in Cleveland, a drone landed in school grounds, while in Derbyshire another was reported in a playground.

Drones have also been seen hovering over children playing in paddling pools, in gardens and at football grounds. 

Drones are also being used for stalking, scoping out targets for burglaries and delivering drugs. There are also multiple reports of criminal damage when the devices crash land into cars, buildings or gardens.

The issue was highlighted last year when flights from Gatwick Airport were suspended after multiple drones were deliberately flown over the airfield. Sussex Police has spent more than £400,000 investigating the case, but no culprit has been found.

The number of prosecutions for misuse of drones remains low because of detection difficulties. In Nottinghamshire, only three people were charged despite 362 incidents between 2016 and 2018.

Children spied on in schools and parks 

Drones have been flown over dozens of schools and nurseries in the past three years – with 63 reports made to eight police forces alone over the period.

Analysis of police data suggests there are more complaints about drones flying over schools than any other public building.

There are also dozens of reports about spying on children in playgrounds, parks and even hovering at bedroom windows.

Police in Middlesbrough said a man in a park was challenged over a drone flying where children were playing. A stock image of a playground is pictured above for illustrative purposes [File photo] 

In Derbyshire, one head teacher told police last year: ‘A couple of times yesterday, each time the children went out to play, a drone was over the school.’

Cleveland Police recorded complaints in Stockton about a drone ‘loitering’ about a nursery garden while children played, while another of the devices was flown over a children’s home.

Police in Middlesbrough said a man in a park was challenged over a drone flying where children were playing. 

A report read: ‘The male stated that he was flying the drone to see above his house. Later he changed to say he was filming trees and had been around various parks.’

 Yesterday Simon Kempton, of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the popularity of drones put forces under strain. He has called for the fitting of tracking transponders.

Hertfordshire saw an 80 per cent increase in drone reports, from 203 in 2016 to 365 in 2018 – the highest in any area. Lancashire was next with 302.

Mr Kempton said: ‘The majority of complaints are about privacy in the same way it used to be about neighbours saying a CCTV camera covers my garden.

What the law says

Drone operators must always keep the craft in sight and never fly them above 400ft over a congested area or near an unknown person, vehicle or building.

Images taken with a drone camera are subject to privacy laws. 

Police will soon get powers to force owners to land drones – if they know who the pilot is. There will also be greater restrictions around airports.

‘I’m sure it has occurred to sex offenders that a drone could check out a school, rather than having to risk sneaking about themselves. But one of the difficulties is finding out who is responsible.’

Sheila Flavell, from IT skills firm the FDM Group, said: ‘Tackling this requires officers to be equipped with the latest cyber skills and expertise. It’s vital that police forces invest heavily in training recruits with digital skills as well as building a more diverse team to address this threat.’

This year it was announced that police will get new powers to land drones and require users to produce documentation. 

Police will also be able to search premises and seize drones under warrant where a serious offence has been committed. From November anyone who owns a drone weighing more than 250 grams (8oz) must register details on a database and complete an online safety test.

The number of drone users in the UK is unknown, but the Civil Aviation Authority estimates 170,000 people will register. Basic model drones can be purchased online for as little as £30, or £50 for one with a camera.

  • A British Airways jet carrying up to 300 passengers came within 20ft of smashing into an illegally flown drone last February, a report has revealed. The Boeing 777 was flying at 330mph at 6,000ft, south-east of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. It was the closest near miss between a BA jet and a drone.

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