A significant policing operation which took place at York Racecourses over the four days of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival has been hailed a success after numerous illegal drones were dealt with. Importantly, this protected the public, horses and those working at the racecourse from harm
North Yorkshire Police and the specialist Counter Drone unit from Crowded Space Drones worked together to monitor the local airspace and respond to any drones flying in the vicinity.
This operation was put in place following a recent surge in the endangerment of the public from drone use near sporting events. At some events, nationally, horses have been injured by illegal drones, with vehicles damaged following drones falling out of the sky.
Whilst illegally operated drones are nothing new at UK sporting fixtures, the reckless behaviour and endangerment of the public has become a more daily occurrence during “behind closed doors” events.
PC Paul Beckwith, Chief Pilot of North Yorkshire Police Drone Unit commented on the operation “Protection of the public from harm is a key priority for North Yorkshire Police, and with the recent rise in incidents we devised this operation to help educate drone users and enforce where necessary. Every drone user should ensure they are fully compliant with the drone code and hold a CAA permission when undertaking commercial activities.
I am delighted this operation was so successful, not only in protecting the public, horses and their riders from harm, but also in educating some members of the public on responsible and safe drone use. We believe the afternoon of racing on the Knavesmire is not an appropriate place to be flying your drone, given the potential dangers involved.”
Andrew Hamilton, former Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Drone Unit lead and now Director of Operations at Crowded Space Drones summed up their role in the operation: “We deployed a panel of Drone Detection equipment which is able to accurately pin point drones within 25km of the event and provide evidence of the manner of flying, altitude, pilot location and much more.
Our Evidence Gatherers on the ground then respond to these locations and triage detections to identify if they are lawful flights. Where a flight is unlawful, we then notified North Yorkshire Police for their attendance at scene and capture further evidence to enable prosecutions, where appropriate.
Words of advice were given to some hobbyist users who simply had misunderstood the drone code, but more serious incidents involved CAA permission holders who were not flying in accordance with their permission. Evidence collected of this has been shared with the CAA for their own investigation and action.”