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British public can't make its mind up about policing with drones

Are drones a good or bad thing? It seems that the British public is pretty much divided on the issue of whether drones could help boost security and police the streets, or whether the cost in terms of compromised privacy isn’t worth it.

A new report from Unisys Security Insights questioned over 2000 adults in the UK about whether they'd like to see video camera toting drones patrolling public areas, and 49 per cent said they thought this would help prevent antisocial behaviour.

On the other hand, 40 per cent felt that it would compromise their privacy, and indeed 22 per cent went further and said that drones were actually a threat to the British public.

Older respondents were more pro-drone, with 61 per cent of those aged over 65 saying the flying surveillance machines would combat antisocial behaviour, compared to only 33 per cent of those aged 18 to 24.

Youngsters were also more concerned about privacy rights, with 45 per cent worrying about compromised privacy compared to 34 per cent of those aged 65 or over. It's not really too surprising, though, to see seniors placing more of a premium on security rather than privacy.

This all comes as the police who take care of the airports in London are about to start using drones to tighten airport security – and there’s also the prospect of drones being used elsewhere by the British police, with Sussex and Surrey police having been granted a £250,000 budget for drone trials.

Forbes Gallagher, Account Director Police and Criminal Justice, Unisys, commented: “These findings show an interesting British schism around drones. Clearly UK citizens are still conscious of the need to improve their personal security, but many feel drones aren’t the right answer – with a significant proportion actually finding them threatening and invasive.

“If British law enforcement wants to introduce drones as a mainstream monitoring strategy, there is clearly a lot of work to be done consulting with, and above all reassuring, the British public that it can be done safely and effectively."

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.