No preparation in region for potential drone threat

Most councils and hospitals in the Black Country have not made any preparations for the potential threat posed by drones.

The use of drones is on the rise
The use of drones is on the rise

Increasing use of drones and advancing technology has resulted in speculation they could be used more by criminals or even terrorists, leading to a discussion about whether greater protection is needed in built-up areas and at sports grounds and other busy venues.

Drones have already proved a headache for security services in the UK.

Huge disruption was caused when one was flown into Gatwick Airport, while crooks have also used the devices to fly drugs into prisons.

But despite this, councils and hospital trusts in the region say they do not have specific policies for drones and the potential threat they pose.

Most instead said they would take action if the need arose or follow advice of aviation authorities.

The trusts which run Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital, Russells Hall in Dudley and Walsall Manor Hospital all said they had not taken any advice or implemented any measures to combat the potential threat of drones when approached by the Express & Star.

It is a similar situation with councils, although some set out ways they work with other agencies on security issues.

Walsall Council said: "Walsall Council does not have a specific drone activity procedure/plan in place at this current time. We routinely work closely with West Midlands Police, the RAF, as well as the Civil Aviation Authority and would source such advice from them should there be a need to do so."

Dudley Council said: "At the present time, Dudley Council does not have a policy on the use of drones in its public areas. However, operational practice is that requests to use drones are considered on the basis of potential risk presented. Risk assessments detailing their proposed use is required from the drone operator before permission to fly can be granted."

Sandwell Council said: "As an authority we haven’t looked at this stage at taking advice on drones or considering implementing any measures to combat the threat posed by drones. In the event that this became an issue for the authority then action would be taken."

Staffordshire County Council said: "The County Council do not have a specific plan for drones, as most of our plans are consequence driven rather than cause. Drones are included in threat assessments undertaken by agencies, but these would not be published outside a specific responder group."

Wolverhampton Council did not provide an answer, saying it could neither "confirm or deny" whether it held the requested information.

A gang was jailed for a total of 37 years in October 2018 for flying £500,000 worth of drugs into prisons including Oakwood and Featherstone, near Wolverhampton.

Gatwick Airport was plunged into chaos last Christmas after a drone caused the airport to be shut down.

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