London airports might soon use drones for surveillance

23 April 2015 (Last Updated April 23rd, 2015 18:30)

Airport police across London will now make use of drones for surveillance following a successful trial at the Gatwick airport and a review by counter-terrorism officers.

Airport police across London will now make use of drones for surveillance following a successful trial at the Gatwick airport and a review by counter-terrorism officers.

The review carried out by the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters found the technology to be potentially 'transformative'.

The trial at the Gatwick airport was carried out in March 2014 where an unmanned drone that transmitted live, high quality images to officers on the ground was deployed near the airport.

"We estimate £1.2m would be saved in three years."

The trialled Aeryon Skyranger system funded by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) was controlled with the help of a portable console by an official.

Heathrow, Stansted, Luton, City airports and a few more airports in other parts of the UK are expected to start using the technology.

The government will roll out the drones in the next 18 months, reported BBC.

George Trebess from the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters was quoted by BBC as saying: "With the new system we will be able to carry out missions around seven times faster than ground-based activity and at around 10% of the cost. We estimate £1.2m would be saved in three years."

With an estimated 50,000 drones in the UK right now, sceptics have already sounded warnings about the damage drones could inflict if they fall into the wrong hands.

There is also a concern among counter-terrorism officers about the kind of publicity extremists could get if they flew a flag or banner over some prominent location in the city.