Essex Police to sell 'spy in the sky'
ESSEX Police is to sell off an unmanned aircraft dubbed the ‘spy in the sky’ because it has never been used.
The Force confirmed the machine, which was bought in May 2008 at a cost of £22,000, would be sold because it ‘does not offer value for money’.
The drone had never been licensed, despite the Force’s intentions of using it to monitor large events and track criminals.
An Essex Police spokesman said: “We own an air robot which, to date, has not been deployed operationally while clarification was obtained regarding licensing legislation.
“We have since made an assessment of our assets and we are in the process of selling the drone.
“We would hope to get the £22,000 back but like most technology, the price would have dropped over the years.”
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed that Essex Police had not applied for a licence for the drone.
The CAA said it needed to be consulted over any use of the drones, which can fly up to 400ft and reach speeds of 30mph.
Essex Police also needed to gain permission to fly within 164ft of people and within 492ft of buildings.
Robert Chambers, chairman of Essex Police Authority when the decision to buy the drone was made, said: “I’m quite happy it’s not going ahead because I’d rather see police on the ground looking at things.
“Buying it was probably one of the mistakes I made, so I hold my hands up and say sometimes you get it wrong.”
He said it was a shame money had been invested but, in the context of the authority’s budget, it only equated to “half a police officer”.
A spokesman for the CAA said: “We’ve had no communication with Essex Police.
“The police can be exempt from a certain number of rules governing the use of unmanned aircraft provided they can show they are able to use them safely.”