Am I committing a crime by flying my drone?

Created on December 21, 2018

Am I committing a crime by flying my drone?

Where can I fly my drone?

There are a wealth of drones on the market to choose from and lately they have become top of the list for children’s latest ‘must have’ toy but how safe are they and do you know the regulations which cover flying them?  For instance, can you fly them in the street outside your house, or in your local park?

A summary of the “Dronecode” regulations

A small (under 20kg) unmanned surveillance aircraft, commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard capable of undertaking any form of surveillance or data acquisition (camera and SD card) and is becoming a more and more popular pastime for young and old alike. But can you fly your drone without fear of being arrested or reported for doing so?

Why is this important to know?

Drones can cause injury to people and animals and damage to property if the person flying them is not in full control of it at all times.  Think about how difficult it is when you first try your drone out, it could land in your neighbour’s garden, be flown into the neighbour’s car or end up in a tree in your local park, all accidentally and unintentionally of course, but these actions have been regulated for and so are now subject to safety rules which are underpinned by UK law.

Where can I fly my drone?

Drone flying is governed by the Air Navigation Order 2016.  In short you are prohibited from flying your drone:-

  • in over or within 150 metres of any congested area,
  • over or within 150 metres of an organised open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons,
  • within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the drone or during take-off or landing
  • it must not be flown within 50 metres of any person or
  • within 30 metres of any person during take-off or landing

So where does this leave you?

“Congested” in this context defines any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes.

A person in charge of a drone of this type must not fly the aircraft in the above circumstances without permission issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

If you are reported to the police for your drone flying and you do not have the required permission you can face criminal proceedings and end up with a criminal conviction, all for having a bit of fun!  You have been warned!

If you would like further information about this particular issue, or any other area of criminal law, please contact us here

Jill Joyce

Jill Joyce

Jill qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and specialises in Magistrates and Youth Court work. She also provides police station representation and undertakes work in all areas of criminal defence.

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