Mitchell, a trained drone pilot who is also one of the few journalists with approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to commercially operate Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA), said he did not need to advise air traffic control as he was operating a drone weighing under 7kg at the time.
“I identified myself to police officers at the scene and said that I would be putting a drone up,” he said.Which is exactly what he's supposed to do. Remember all the pants-wetting the police were indulging in earlier over the fears of unlicensed folks getting their hands on these things?
Well, hold that thought...
“Twenty minutes later, while I was flying it a sergeant arrived and shouted ‘get the drone down now’. I said that I couldn’t talk as I had it in the air. All three of them then came at me, ripped the controller from my hands and slapped cuffs on me.”
“All three of them tried to bring it down. They were passing the controller between them but it was all over the place.”/facepalm
Mitchell, who trades under the name of Aerial-News, said that the officers from Surrey police told him that he was being arrested for a breach of the peace. He said that he was released after nearly five hours in custody with no further action taken.
However, his drone was still in the possession of Surrey police.And is probably being flown around the Surrey Police canteen right now. Or maybe having its film tampered with?
He intends to lodge complaints with the Independent Police Complaints Commission and CAA this week.It does rather make you wonder what it was he filmed police doing at the scene that they didn't want filmed, doesn't it?
Update: Surrey Police PR wonks were pulled off their New Year pre-celebration activities to dish out this load of self-serving, identity-group placating load of flannel:
"The arrest was made following complaints from local residents and others in the vicinity of the tragic incident in which a woman and two young children sadly lost their lives. Detective Chief Inspector Antony Archibald, said:
“While in attendance, concerns about the behaviour of a man were raised to officers from people who believed he was acting in a disrespectful and intrusive manner.
“At the time of the arrest, the main focus for officers and fire crew at the scene was to conclude the initial forensic investigation and to allow the dignified removal of the bodies of those who had sadly died.
“This was a deeply distressing incident which has devastated the community and the impact will be felt for some time. The thoughts of all at Surrey Police are with those affected by the fire.”
The arrested man was taken to Salfords Custody Suite but once the risk of the breach of the peace had ceased he was released from police custody. An item which was confiscated from him during the arrest is now in the process of being returned.Translation: "We stopped a journalist doing his job in a lawful manner because an identity group complained and we have to pander to them no matter what, or we'll never climb the greasy pole, will we?"