Drone detection systems can now be used across UK, says minister after Gatwick flight chaos

Ben Wallace hints at technical arrangements made to pinpoint threat, warning of severe punishments for anyone threatening airport safety

Monday 24 December 2018 20:44
Couple arrested over the drone disruption at Gatwick says they feel 'completely violated'

Detection systems can now be deployed across the UK to combat the threat of drones, a security minister has announced.

Ben Wallace warned that people using drones “recklessly” or illegally could expect severe punishments.

About 1,000 flights affecting 140,000 passengers were cancelled or diverted across three days after drones were spotted inside the perimeter of the UK’s second-biggest airport on Wednesday.

In a statement, Mr Wallace said the government was now able to deploy detection systems throughout the UK to combat the threat.

“The huge proliferation of such devices, coupled with the challenges of deploying military counter measures into a civilian environment, means there are no easy solutions,” he said.

“However, I can say that we are able to now deploy detection systems throughout the UK to combat this threat.”

A couple from Crawley, near Gatwick, said they were receiving medical care after the trauma of being arrested and released without charge over the drone sightings.

Paul Gait and Elaine Kirk, who spent two nights in custody, said they were deeply distressed and felt "completely violated" by the experience.

There were more than 200 sightings of drones over several days, with police taking 67 statements.

Police are also carrying out a forensic investigation of a damaged drone found near Gatwick.

Gatwick has offered a £50,000 reward, through Crimestoppers and another £10,000 has been put up by the charity’s chairman, Lord Ashcroft, for the arrest of those responsible for the chaos.

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Sussex Police has backtracked on suggestions that there may never have been any drones at Gatwick, blaming the theory on “poor communications”.

PA contributed to this report.