Drones: How your new gadget can get you in trouble with the law

UK police have noticed a sharp spike in drone-related incidents over the past year, with the flying gadgets allegedly being used for crimes such as sexual offences and ferrying drugs.

According to police figures obtained by The Guardian, Thames Valley police recorded 21 incidents last year, rising to 80 in 2015. The Metropolitan police noted 21 cases this year, up from just one drone-related incident in 2014.

So what have people been doing with these drones? Well, the incidents logged range from ferrying drugs into prisons to hovering outside bedroom windows.

While you may wonder why someone would be bothered about a drone near their house or garden, The UK Drone Show’s founder Oliver O’Brien told PCR: “Drones have gone from flying RCs to flying cameras, and now they are flying mini computers.

“Some of the algorithms that are being written for them are very impressive, and they’re getting easier and easier to fly.”

While there seems to be genuine criminal drone activity going on, innocent consumers may also find themselves breaking the somewhat unclear drone laws. For instance, did you know that you are not allowed to fly a drone within 50 metres of a person or within 150 metres of a congested area?

As well as this, a special license is required if you want to use a drone for aerial work such as filming or photography. A filmmaker discovered this recently when he tried to fly his drone over Hyde Park to shoot some video. He was fined £1,125.

“Whether it’s photography or checking oil rigs, you have to obtain a training qualification, which gives you permission for aerial work,” warned O’Brien.

The first ever UK Drone Show, which takes place on December 5th at the NEC Birmingham, will have a dedicated training section to educate consumers and professionals on drone laws.

In other drone-based news, last month Maplin launched its own drone academy.

Drones are not the only emerging tech products to catch the eye of the UK law makers. The Metropolitan Police has today announced that riding a two-wheeled Segway or a hoverboard scooter on the streets of Britain is now illegal.

PCR will be delving into the world of drones, why retailers should get involved in selling them, and how drone racing in growing in popularity in the upcoming November issue of PCR, so check back here from November 1st to read the article.

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