Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Donald MacLeod: It’s high time we grounded dangerous drones

Drone (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Drone (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

WITH names like Parrot Bebop, DJ Phantom, 3DR Solo and Yuneec you would be forgiven for thinking they were Star Wars characters.

But they’re actually popular brand names of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), or drones as they are more commonly known, which are quite literally flying off the shelves.

And as their sales soar so are the worrying reports and complaints of their reckless use and criminal deployment.

The news that two had been intercepted carrying large amounts of drugs and mobile phones by the police at Pentonville Prison, London, had me wondering if the Flying Squad was involved.

No arrests were made, but Operation Airborne as it was imaginatively titled has been deemed a success, stopping as it did large quantities of illegal contraband reaching the equally imaginative, but now buzzing with air rage, convicts.

But I wouldn’t celebrate too soon. Recent police figures suggested their use was on the up and successful interceptions were down.

There were 33 incidents involving drones at UK prisons in 2015, compared to two in 2013. And you do wonder if many others got through undetected.

Filming fancy aerial shots of your house, garden or favourite holiday spot is one thing, but spying on celebs or buzzing a passenger jet quite another.

It’s a real cause for concern.

The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has strict rules about where drones can be flown.

But rules, it seems, are there to be broken, and given that many off-the-shelf hobby drones with a wee bit of tinkering are now able to reach alpine heights and telescopic spans, broken they are, on an almost daily basis.

Worryingly, 23 near misses involving passenger jets and drones were investigated by the UK Aiprox Board in the first six months of this year, with several of the incidents classed as A-rated, meaning there was a serious risk of collision.

It’s no wonder the UK Pilots Association is demanding stricter enforcement of no-fly drone zones and tests carried out on the effects of a collision.

Drones have already been seen buzzing over football matches and other large sporting events.

It’s like a deadly version of spinning plates – you know one will eventually fall and shatter but not when.

And as someone who, when I can afford it, likes to buzz about the more scenic parts of Scotland in a helicopter, the thought that one of these beasties might become mangled in my rotors totally terrifies me.

If they aren’t already, our skies will soon be infested with all manner of security, police and immigration surveillance drones – especially in these insecure and paranoid times.

TV companies are already convinced they are the future and they are swarming our skies with them.

It probably won’t be long before our authorities get in on the act with their very own cooncil drones, fines at the ready as they check our bins, scan for dog mess and photograph those who litter.

The public have a new flying toy they can play with and, worryingly, so do criminals and terrorists.

How long then do you think it will be before a terrorist manages to adapt one to carry and deliver a deadly payload of guns, ammo, homemade explosives, dirty bombs, gas or even anthrax spores.

Sadly, I don’t think it will be long at all.


VIDEO: Watch breathtaking footage from a drone flying through a fireworks display

Youngsters and parents could face criminal sanctions as police clamp down on the use of drones