By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Some residents on the main island of Tortola are becoming alarmed by what they say is an increase in the amount of drone activity in residential areas, especially during after-dark hours.
These residents have said they believe the presence of the drones is an invasion of their privacy.
“These drones can come to your bedroom level and the zoom on these cameras can see straight into your bedroom. What if you are sleeping at night and they are hovering these drones and seeing what you are doing?” said one male resident who spoke to BVI News on the condition of anonymity.
The man, who is a resident of Sage Mountain on Tortola, added: “I don’t have a problem that they are using it, but the BVI should have laws, and you should have a permit, especially in residential areas.”
“This has been going on for a while now … this is an invasion of privacy. These people who fly the drones here; do they have a permit to use these drones? Are there any laws in place for drone activities in the BVI? And what is the law? We need to know,” he continued.
The Sage Mountain resident said he spotted one of the drones being operated in West End just minutes before midnight earlier this month.
He said he also spotted drones in Huntums Ghut, Sea Cows Bay, Nanny Cay and in his Sage Mountain community.
“These people could be recording you, and you don’t know,” he said before calling on central government to probe and address the issue.
One female businesswoman residing in the Nanny Cay area of Tortola told BVI News she also had an encounter with the flying devices.
She said one hovered above her property just this week.
“It was about midday on Sunday and it was right there. I stood and I watched it for ages. I’m asking what were they doing?”
No drone regulation laws, police say
Deputy Police Commissioner Alwin James told BVI News on Tuesday that there are presently no laws in place to govern the use of drone activity in the territory.
“The Air Safety Support International has regulations on drones. It applies to the BVI but it is more so as it relates to where it interferes with aircrafts coming into the airport. [But], we don’t have any regulations on our books as it relates to drones,” James said.
“Drones are a recent thing, and no permit is required to utilize them.”
When asked if the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) own drones, the deputy commissioner responded with a ‘yes’. However, he said, “RVIPF drones are associated with [their] K-9 Unit and the search-and-rescue at sea.”
The Deputy Police Commissioner said there have been no reports received about the drone disturbances. He further said there are no restrictions on anyone wishing to import drones in the BVI.
Drones to form part of security plan
Notably, just last year, Governor Augustus Jaspert said a new security plan for the territory would see the introduction of drones in the territory.
He said the police drone surveillance would be purchased with a portion of the £1.2 million the United Kingdom had donated to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) in December 2017.
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