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Victorian Police Force planning to buzz crowds with drones? Featured

Victoria Police's counter-terrorism boss Ross Guenther has announced plans to fly drones above crowds at major events.

In conjunction with the recently-released Victoria Police Counter Terrorism Strategy 2018-2021, Guenther spoke of two rather interesting plans.

Firstly, he noted that in other countries Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ('drones') had been successfully used to fly above crowds at major events in an attempt to monitor behaviour.

He was reported in Fairfax Media as saying, "If you have a concert in the park, you put a backpack down but walk on, a drone will stay on that and send images back to the police command post.

"We really are in the Jetsons type age right now."

iTWire understands that under federal law, it is illegal to fly a drone above people, so we contacted the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for its thoughts, pointing out our understanding that such activity was illegal.

A spokesperson responded, "As you have already pointed out, CASA states that there is no flying over crowds for good reason. This is because of the risk posed to third parties is unacceptable for the vast majority of consumer RPAs or drones.

"If someone can prove to CASA that their RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) either meets or exceeds certified manned aircraft standards, it would be very hard for CASA not to issue an exemption to this rule."

So, it seems a drone must be provably better than a manned craft in order to gain an exemption.

The office of Victorian Police Minister, Lisa Nevilla, has been contacted for comment.

The other interesting statement from Guenther was a plan to recruit elite university students to crack encrypted communication between suspected terrorists. 

Readers should note that neither of these plans is specifically expressed in the Strategy document.

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