Surrey Police use drone to break up gatherings during coronavirus lockdown

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Police have used a drone to break up a gathering that went against coronavirus social distancing rules.

Officers from Surrey Police said they used the drone to disperse a group of around 30 people in the town of Walton-on-Thames.

The police are using the drone to enforce social distancing rules without asking officers to break the rules themselves, a statement said.

Surrey and Sussex police have been using the drone since the start of the lockdown on 23 March.

The drone approaches people who are seen to be not keeping to social distancing rules, before playing them a recorded message.

The message says: “Attention this a Police message. You are gathering in breach of government guidelines to stay at home in response to the coronavirus. You are putting lives at risk.

“Please disperse immediately and return home.”

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Surrey Police Superintendent Graham Barnett thanked the people who were keeping to social distancing rules.

He added: “While Surrey Police understands that the nice weather makes staying indoors difficult, by doing so you are helping to slow the spread of coronavirus, ensuring the National Health Service maintains its capacity to treat the most vulnerable people in our communities, and ultimately save lives.

Mr Barnett acknowledged that families and friends often gather together at Easter, but said that this year the weekend was more important than ever.

He went on: “Embrace this opportunity to bring something positive from this unprecedented situation. We ask you to stay at home and protect the NHS to save lives.”

Surrey is not the only police force to have used drones to help enforce the coronavirus lockdown.

Derbyshire Constabulary and South Wales Police have also shared drone footage of their social distancing policing efforts.

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