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Unmanned Air Vehicles: Surveillance

Question for Home Office

UIN HL3962, tabled on 5 May 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what mechanisms are in place to ensure that the use of drone surveillance technology during the COVID-19 pandemic is necessary and proportionate.

Answered on

22 May 2020

Decisions to use drones and in which circumstances are operational matters for police forces who are subject to the requirements of the Air Navigation Order and Data Protection legislation when operating drones. The Police have not been granted any additional powers to use drones during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Health Protection Regulations 2020 give police the powers they need to enforce compliance with the social distancing measures and all use of police powers must be legitimate, necessary and proportionate.

The Civil Aviation Authority have granted the Emergency Services, including the police, an exemption from some of the requirements contained in the Air Navigation Order 2016, to support the enforcement of Government COVID-19 restrictions. These changes do not grant extra powers to police. They relax restrictions in place for operating drones for the specific case of enforcing Covid-19 restrictions. Mitigation for use of the exemption needs to be written into the Operations Manuals of drone teams and use needs to be reported to the CAA on renewal of the permission.

The Home Office does not hold any information on the use of drones by other public bodies in relation to Covid-19.

The Data Protection Act and the Surveillance Camera Code govern police use of surveillance cameras.

Answered by

Home Office