THE POLICE SERVICE of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have revealed details about the unmanned aerial vehicles or drones they will be using during the G8 summit, which gets under way in Fermanagh tomorrow.
As part of an unprecedented security operation at the Lough Erne golf resort near Enniskillen, the PSNI will be operating three of the unmanned aircraft over the next two days to give them an “eye in the sky” view of their operation.
The drones will be used primarily for surveillance purposes during the summit and will deliver high quality images to police commanders.
The PSNI will have 8,000 officers in the field over a 24-hour period with the existing force supplemented by over 3,600 officers brought in from police forces in England, Scotland and Wales.
Speaking at a press briefing this evening, the assistant chief constable in charge of the G8 operation, Alistair Finlay, said that he preferred not to refer to the drones as ‘drones’.
“We’ve tried to take the drone term out of the description because it has a particular resonance with some of the other methods of delivering armaments and we’ve seen that in Middle Eastern conflicts,” he said.
“They actually look like big model aircraft… they are operated by line of sight, but by a qualified pilot so they are operated at very close range. They are used under limited purposes.”
Finlay explained that having three drones was for the purposes of ensuring at least one of the aircraft was in the sky at all times and said that the licensing of them by the UK’s Civil Aviation authority meant their use would be restricted.
Also speaking this evening, PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott said that so far the policing operation had been successful with no public order arrests so far.
“There’s a great buzz about the place,” he said, adding that it was his force’s job to ensure that world leaders “address world issues with excellent security”.