Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Sussex Police asked to let others investigate the 'drones over Gatwick incident'

The UK police force in charge of the investigations into a series of drone attacks that caused mass disruption at the UK's second busiest airport, London Gatwick, just before Christmas, has been told to step aside.

Sussex Police is facing mounting criticism over the way it has handled its investigation or the drone attacks, leading many, including Members of Parliament to brand the force "inadequate". Politicians and lawmakers have called on the local force to hand over the investigation to London's Metropolitan Police.  Lord Harris of Haringey, warned that the drone attack that grounded flights at Gatwick was an attack on critical national infrastructure, needed the Metropolitan Police to take control. 

MP John Woodcock said there was now a good case for an alternative police force to investigate the incident as it was so serious and Sussex Police have proved to be ineffectual.  While the transport secretary Chris Grayling criticised Sussex police whom he said: "have not handled their communication response well". This was in response to a senior officer at Sussex Police seeming to say there may never have been a drone over Gatwick, despite over 30 sightings, including by staff members in the control tower. 

The force has also faced criticism for taking so long to ask for further help, especially, from the military, who eventually assisted the airport with anti-drone technology.  It is understood that government ministers will now assess processed to streamline the procedure for the armed forces to deploy such technology in future. 

The airport operators have issued a reward of £50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the disruption at the airport. This has been increased by £10,000 from Lord Ashcroft through the Crimestoppers organisation.