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Back from the battlefield: domestic drones in the UK

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Back from the battlefied: domestic drones in the UK aims to contribute to the public debate on the use of drones within the UK. Co-published by Statewatch and Drone Wars UK, the report examines the use of drones use by both public and private bodies. The main body of the research examines the use of drones by police forces and border control authorities and argues that public discussion and debate is needed before the use of drones - in particular for surveillance purposes - becomes widespread.

Due to a lack of safety guarantees and regulatory framework the use of drones in the UK remains limited, particularly amongst public authorities, although there are moves to introduce them more widely. Use by law enforcement authorities remains limited, although evidence gathered for the report suggests that the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the predecessor to the National Crime Agency, may have acquired the use of drone technology in late 2012.

Currently it is private companies dealing with surveying, mapping, photography, filming and safety inspection that use the vast majority of drones licensed for operation within UK airspace. However, as technology develops and becomes more widely available this is likely to change, and various attempts are being made to drive this development and capitalise on what is perceived as a significant market for 'civil' drones.

The report examines, in turn: law and regulation surrounding the use of domestic drones, in particular as regards surveillance; funding from UK and EU institutions aimed at the development of drone technology and regulation; the use of drones by police forces; the use of drones for border control purposes; and the use of drones by private companies and individuals.

Eurodrones, Inc.

In February 2014 Statewatch and the Transnational Institute published Eurodrones, Inc., a report that tells the story of how European citizens are unknowingly subsidising through their taxes a controversial drone industry yet are systematically excluded from any debates about their use. Behind empty promises of consultation, EU officials have turned over much of drone policy development to the European defence and security corporations which seek to profit from it.

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