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After almost two days of chaos at Gatwick, what now?

Does anyone even know what can be done to ensure drones cannot cause such disruption in the future.

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Flashback to July 2017, Gatwick closes their runway twice after reports of a drone close to runway were received.

The first closure lasted nine minutes while the second lasted only six. (Read that story here)

The very next day Crawley MP Henry Smith brought the issue up in Parliament after it is revealed that there were 55 such attacks in 2016, an increase from 39 in 2015 and in 2017 there had already been 27 such occurrences. (Read that story here)

A year later a new ‘No Drone Zone’ is introduced at Gatwick. The new law says that anyone flying an unauthorised drone within one kilometre of Gatwick’s perimeter fence – or anywhere at a height above 400 feet – risks five years in prison or an unlimited fine, or both, as the new laws come into force. (Read that story here)

Flash forward twenty one months and another drone incident this time closes the runway for thirty three hours before finally flights begin again only to be delayed for another forty minutes after yet another sighting. Thousands upon thousands of people are stranded in airports around the world or are diverted to towns and even countries they now have to struggle to get home from.

if those responsible even cared about laws they wouldn’t have done it in the first place

Resources from Sussex and Surrey Police along with Gatwicks own force, Fire services and finally the army are called in.

Finally over forty eight hours after the closure two local people are arrested. (Read that story here)

But where does this leave us?  If it has taken almost two days for an act that caused such chaos and disruption to be resolved then what can anyone do to solve it.

Politicians have screamed out we need harsher laws forgetting that if those responsible even cared about laws they wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

Technology experts have flooded our TV screens describing countless methods available to stop drones.

Police and airport officials have said that they have now brought in technology to allow them to secure the airport from future attacks – this before they had to close the runway again.

And yet there has been no real solution provided never mind delivered.

Journalists have pressed senior police figures to explain why it has taken so long to stop the drones but when it was clear there was no real answer they could give it just made the whole issue even more confusing.

Talk has now been building that something is being held back from everyone and there is more to it than what is being released.  The conspiracy theorists having a blast not helped by the lack of photos and video of the drones bar one.

And all the while hotels are over booked and travellers still suffering.

The real scary fact is that a ‘new’ technology that is in-fact not that new is now available to the masses and no-one has a solution to prevent future issues that have been experienced this week.

The following days, weeks and months will be fascinating as more details are released as to what has happened and if those arrested turn out to be responsible and we find out why they acted this way, then maybe, just maybe we will be able to start putting in real solutions to something no-one would have thought would be a problem only a few years ago.

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Let’s just waste more money on imprisoning people for speeding and lying

One man was only six miles over the speed limit while the other was 12mph over.

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Sussex Police have published a press release where two men who lied about speeding were sent to prison. Initially when you read the story it appears two men have been given prison sentences for breaking the speed limit by so little BUT this is where you need to read past the initial report and see what is really going on.

First the background:

CASE ONE:

On 29 May 2017, a white Ford Focus activated a speed camera in Ditchling Road, Brighton – it was travelling at 36mph in a 30mph zone.

A Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) was sent to the registered keeper in Hove, but no response was received.

Therefore a new NIP was sent to Colin Drewitt-Barlow at an address in Sompting on the basis the vehicle was insured to him.

A reply was received stating Drewitt-Barlow no longer resided there, and further enquiries led to another NIP being sent to his new address in Coleman Avenue, Hove.

The 31-year-old, unemployed, and now of Downsway, Southwick, replied and nominated another person, however this proved to be a false name and address.

In police interview, Drewitt-Barlow denied driving the vehicle when the offence was committed or ever owning it. The case was then submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which authorised a charge of perverting the course of justice.

Drewitt-Barlow pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea to guilty at Lewes Crown Court on 12 December 2018, where he was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

CASE TWO:

On 25 June 2017, a black BMW M3 activated two speed cameras in Sussex – it was caught travelling at 38mph in a 30mph zone on the A259 Marine Parade, Brighton, and at 72mph in a 60mph zone on the A24 at West Grinstead.

Two separate NIPs were sent to the registered keeper – Ozgur Uzum, 45, a fast food employee, of Salvington Road, Worthing, however they were both returned nominating another person from Hampshire.

Both NIPs were sent to the nominated driver but no response was received. Enquiries revealed this person had been nominated before, and it was confirmed the individual had been a victim of stolen identity.

In police interview, Uzum continued to deny the offences, however he later changed his plea to guilty after being shown an image from the A24 incident, which clearly showed him driving the vehicle in question.

The CPS authorised two charges of perverting the course of justice, and at Lewes Crown Court on 10 December, Uzum was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

The CPS authorised two charges of perverting the course of justice, and at Lewes Crown Court on 10 December, Uzum was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

So what is really happening is two people are going to prison for perverting the course of justice. Something which can actually hand out a life in prison term.

In-fact both men could have got away with a small fine and some points had they just admitted it was them.

Instead, by lying they have forced mountains of paper work, an appearance in court and now tax payers money to be wasted on sending them to prison.

Surely now sentencing needs to be examined so that rather than wasting tax payers money on putting people inside an already packed prison system they are forced to pay for the huge amount of cost that was allocated into chasing, charging and convicting them.

Sussex Police launched Operation Pinocchio in 2016 with the following aims:

  • To improve safety on Sussex’s roads by tracing and prosecuting offenders who provide false information in an attempt to avoid prosecution;
  • And to prevent law-abiding motorists, who have been badly advised, from committing serious criminal offences by attempting to avoid speeding or red light offences.

BUT unless sentencing changes are made all this is going to do is add even more financial pressure on a system that needs to reform urgently.

At a time when the police have never been under such pressure to perform and reduce crime figures perhaps more thought should have gone into whether publishing this outcome would have a positive or negative impact on them – even though they were only following the law.

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