Case study 7: Five police notices for flying model aircraft

(Statement by CPN recipient) ‘I received a total of four CPN warning letters and one full CPN notice in relation to my hobby of flying model aircraft from the 2 acre field behind my house. My CPN ordered me to cease ‘flying your plane or other radio controlled devices such as drones from your property’. These notices included inaccurate statements about the Civil Aviation Authority guidelines. Another CPW accused me of ‘staring in an intimidating manner’ at a builder employed by my neighbours, and said that I must not ‘contact, interact with or intimidate’ any occupant or guest of my neighbours.

Despite me fighting the issuing of each of the warning letters, the police took no notice of any evidence I produced. I wrote probably hundreds of emails, phoned them a similar number of times and supplied them with a great deal of substantiating evidence including videos, copies of documentation from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) relating to the rules and regulations pertaining to the flying of UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) over which they have control. I included letters from neighbours who supported my claims and disputed what two malicious/vindictive neighbours were saying about me.

The neighbours were supported by an equally vindictive police officer from the safer neighbourhood team. This police officer had been reported by me to his Inspector many months earlier, over a non-related incident which my wife and I were very unhappy about the way that he dealt with it. I believe it is because of this that he took it upon himself to pursue me with the issuing of many CPNs.

I went through all the correct channels contacting the officers – the Sergeant, Inspector and eventually their Chief Inspector.

The Officer, Sergeant and Inspector knew nothing about the CAA regulations and it all became very argumentative; they were quoting the regulations incorrectly to me and when I tried to point this out to them it seemed to escalate the situation. When I was able to show their misunderstanding of the regulation in question, they simply raised another issue.

Finally, when I was able to involve the Chief Inspector who actually took the time to come out to my house. His initial reaction after having walked the area was: ‘I can’t see any reason why you can’t fly your aeroplane from your two acre field directly behind your house’. The inspector went on to say that he was concerned at the way his officers were using the CPNs, and also about the fact that I was being told what actual aircraft I could or couldn’t fly, which the police have no authority over. It is also a requirement of the notice that it has a time span on it, ie an end date, which the notice did not.

Regarding the full CPN notice issued to me, I was able to prove to the police that it was not actually me who was flying the plane on the day in question and that I had not therefore broken the previously issued CPN warning letter, which was their justification for issuing the full notice. The full notice was subsequently withdrawn.

This suggests that not only do the police not need to have any proof to issue the warning letters, they equally do not appear to be concerned about having proof to issue the full notice, for which you can be taken to court and end up with a criminal conviction.

All the obvious feelings come into play when this is happening. You feel violated when you know you have done nothing wrong and helpless knowing everything you are doing to rectify the situation falls on deaf ears. It leads to sleepless nights, non-stop worrying, and even petty bickering and arguments within the family because of the stress it puts you under. In three words, the CPN ruins your life.’