I CAN SEE YOU: Drones, run by Safe City, are the next stage in Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale's public safety campaign.
I CAN SEE YOU: Drones, run by Safe City, are the next stage in Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale's public safety campaign.

REVEALED: Plan for drones to fight crime in Ipswich

SAFE city drones will be flying over Ipswich and fighting crime as eyes in the sky if Mayor Paul Pisasale gets his way.

Cr Pisasale is investigating how he can make the drone plan a reality while abiding by tight legislative requirements.

The mayor has spoken to emergency services personnel who back his plan, while Ipswich's Inspector Keith McDonald has also thrown support behind the proposal.

Safe City cameras are already assisting police to catch criminals in real time and the drones, to be operated by Safe City, would take that to the next in more ways than one, Cr Pisasale said.

"The legislation is there to protect people and we will follow all of that, but the other side of it is that our Safe City cameras have been leading the way in catching criminals and stopping crime in hot spots," he said.

"There are some morons causing trouble and police are doing a fantastic job catching them, but need to look at ways we can take further action in whatever way we have to. The great thing about drones is that they can be an extra set of eyes in the sky to help police catch criminals in the act.

"I will be doing everything I can to investigate how we can get these drones in the air so that we can ensure the safety of all the families in this great city of Ipswich. With these car chases it is best to watch them from the sky rather than police having to chase them in a car.

"It is about taking policing and safety to another level. I have spoken to the fire department and if there is a house fire we could keep an eye on it from above for them, and it would also be of great help with bush fires. They are fully supportive."

Insp McDonald was impressed with the mayor's plans.

"Any form of surveillance and assistance is a boon to us," he said.

"The fact that (the drones) would be monitored by Safe City provides another avenue of closed circuit TV and vision to us, while also monitoring the behaviour of the public at major events, so it would be definitely worthwhile from our perspective."

Police already use drones, Insp McDonald pointed out.

"They do for crime scenes and traffic crashes. They are trialling them in Brisbane at the present stage," he said.

"I know they have used them at other events as well."

There are restrictions on the use of drones. Federal legislation states that remotely piloted aircraft must be flown during the day, more than 30m away from anyone who is not directly associated with the operation and below 400 feet above ground level.

They may not be operated over an area where a fire, police or other public safety or emergency operation is being conducted without the approval of a person in charge of the operation.

There is also a requirement they not be flown over "populous areas" but Insp McDonald says there is context around that.

"They basically have to make sure they don't hover over people's backyards while they are swimming and things like that," he said.

"That is the type of thing they are looking at. If they are flying over business and commercial areas it shouldn't be a drama. But for people staying in a hotel, I imagine the last thing they would want is to open the curtains up while standing in their mother nature suit only to see a drone filming them. So long as the mayor abides by all the legislation it is not a worry."

Cr Pisasale said he had been investigating the use of drones for some time but added that he was motivated to make it public after an aerospace seminar.

"I was at an aerospace think-tank and was told about the development of drones going on at an airfield at Glamorgan Vale," he said.

"I intend to have further discussions with them.

"Now I know the technology is there and the police use it. It could be a pilot here in Ipswich to protect our city."

Civil libertarians have hit out at the use of drones but Cr Pisasale said he was not intending to use them to invade privacy.

"Like I always say, and this goes for the drones, we are not going to watch you if you are not doing anything wrong," he said.

"The degree of me watching you is directly proportionate to your own stupidity."

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