Drones will be one of the areas of discussion at the Pint of Science event in Medway

Gatwick drones incident highlights need for electronic protection

An expert at the University on the legal issues surrounding drones says that the Gatwick incident suggests changes in the law would not be enough to prevent further problems occurring.

Dr Alan McKenna, of the University’s Kent Law School, suggests that although the incident will prompt calls for further legal restrictions, it is likely electronic solutions will be required to prevent other incidents in the future.

Dr McKenna has been an expert participant in a Drone Public Dialogue event organised on behalf of the Ministry of Defence and Department of Transport that is being used to help develop Government drone policies. He is also a member of Kent Police’s Drone Development Board.

He comments: ‘The Chief Operating Officer of Gatwick has said the drones are of an industrial size, so we appear not to be talking about the drones you can buy from the shops.

‘Obviously there will be all sorts of speculation, but given the timing involved and the time period over which the drones have been present, there must be a strong suspicion this is a very deliberate act.

‘The scale of the chaos will lead to calls for fresh restrictions on drones no doubt, but it has to be asked if this was a planned operation then would such restrictions be effective in preventing a repeat.

‘Only seven people have been prosecuted in five years for drone offences unrelated to prison use, which highlights the challenges for the police to be able to deal with drone mis-use like this.

‘It is very likely that electronic solutions such as the one used to protect Les Nicolles prison on Guernsey from drone incursions will be introduced rapidly.’

The University’s Press Office provides the media with expert comments in response to topical news events. Colleagues who would like to learn more about how to contribute their expertise or how the service works should contact the Press Office on 3985 or pressoffice@kent.ac.uk