Gatwick drone sightings ‘may have been police equipment’

Sussex Police drone used at Eastbourne SUS-181229-124820001
Sussex Police drone used at Eastbourne SUS-181229-124820001

Sussex Police boss Giles York says some of the 115 reports of drones at Gatwick Airport may have been equipment used by the force to catch the culprit.

Chief constable Giles York told Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (Saturday) that Sussex Police launched its own drones to “investigate, engage and survey the area” and that “may have caused a level of confusion”.

Chief Constable Giles York of Sussex Police

Chief Constable Giles York of Sussex Police

Mr York was responding to questions over the drone saga which saw Gatwick locked down and flights cancelled and severely disrupted just days before Christmas because of drones being spotted within the airport perimeter and close to the runway.

He also apologised to two people who were arrested and later released without charge saying he was sorry for what they had been through.

Mr York said his officers had been conducting “a very thorough response to what has been an unprecedented and challenging event for so many”.

He said, “The investigation has been incredibly thorough including the first strand of it appealing to the community for information around this, the presence of officers in and around the airport and searches of up to 26 sites which we think are the really credible places where this drone may or may not have taken off.

“I don’t think we have found the drone responsible for this at this time. We are able to rule those two damaged drones which we found out of the investigation at this time.

“We are getting close to being able to identify the model. There were 115 reports of seeing drones in the area – 92 of those are credible.

“We live in an age now where everybody expects us to have high quality images or video footage of what was going on at the time but that just hasn’t been possible because of the timing of flights, the speed it was going.”

Mr York also said he was certain that a drone was flying throughout the period Gatwick was closed.