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Illegal drone flight in Norwich city centre leads to police action

PUBLISHED: 14:46 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:17 02 September 2019

Norfolk police were alerted to an illegal drone flight in Norwich city centre after footage emerged on Facebook. Pictured is the Norfolk Constabulary drone. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk police were alerted to an illegal drone flight in Norwich city centre after footage emerged on Facebook. Pictured is the Norfolk Constabulary drone. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Police have issued "words of advice" after a drone was flown illegally in Norwich city centre.

It is against the law to fly a drone within 500 ft of built up areas and crowds. Picture: Denise BradleyIt is against the law to fly a drone within 500 ft of built up areas and crowds. Picture: Denise Bradley

A video emerged on Facebook last month which showed a drone flying close to Norwich Castle, breaching restrictions imposed on recreational flights.

In one Facebook post, the video was shared with the message 'maybe how a bird looks at this'.

Norfolk police said it was the first time illegal use of a drone was brought to their attention via social media.

The man who had taken the footage was "given words of advice" from officers and the video has since been deleted on Facebook.

The drone flight restriction zone around Norwich Airport. Picture: Drone Safe/GoogleThe drone flight restriction zone around Norwich Airport. Picture: Drone Safe/Google

The footage contravened the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) guidelines, which prohibits drones from flying within 150ft of people and residential areas and 500ft of built-up areas and crowds.

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PC Thomas Munday, from Norfolk Constabulary's community safety neighbourhood policing team, said: "After being made aware of this illegal drone flight in Norwich, officers investigated the matter and identified the operator who has since been spoken to and given words of advice regarding their actions.

"Any drone flights within the restricted air space surrounding an airport will be prosecuted.

A video on Facebook showed a drone flying close to Norwich Castle. Picture: Ella WilkinsonA video on Facebook showed a drone flying close to Norwich Castle. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"Given the increase in use of such devices, we are looking at ways to help educate members of the public about the legal use of drones."

It is also against the law for pilots to fly their drones above 400ft or inside an airport's flight restriction zone without permission.

A map on the CAA website shows the restrictions zones around Norwich airport extends towards Taverham, Hainford, Rackheath and north of city. The CAA warned: "If your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft it is a criminal offence and you could go to prison for five years."

From November 30, operators with drones weighing more than 250g will be required to pass a test and register with the CAA before they can fly.

Norfolk police said it is putting a process in place ahead of the new legislation being enforced to tackle the illegal use of drones.

A police spokesman said the majority of the public are not always aware of legislation and advised people to find out more about drone laws on dronesafe.uk.

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