SA govt gazettes private security drone regulations

Any person hoping to offer drone services for the security industry in South Africa must be registered as a security service provider according to the requirements of the Public Security Industry Regulation Act; or else face prosecution for breaching the law.

That is according to part of the draft regulations released by the police minister in the Government Gazette last week, whose purpose is to “determine the regulations and rules for security services providers operating and advertising RPAS for commercial purposes within the private security industry; and effectively control and monitor the use of RPAS in the private security industry and ensure that such RPAS are being operated in a lawful manner.”

The gazette also called for stakeholders in the industry who may have misgivings or alternative thoughts about sections of the draft regulations to lodge their submissions with the national private security industry regulator, the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) by the end of this month.

The drone economy might be a fledgling industry in South Africa at present, but more and more players in the security industry are incorporating drone technology in their quest to keep people and property safe from criminals.

Of the biggest private security providers in the country, Fidelity has led the arms race for drone integration, as it started deploying drones for its operations in 2020.

Other companies to employ drone technology of late include Hassar Security and Defence Solutions and Thorburn Security Solutions; the latter of which has been working with rising security drone services provider Drone Guards to buttress security missions and patrols by its ground personnel.

As a security implement, unmanned aerial systems can be applied for search and rescue missions, perimeter security; aerial surveillance, border control, among many other use cases.

In police circles, drones have also been used for the already mentioned applications, in addition to crowd control; and as the technology has evolved and revolved, drones are now even being used to secure people’s homes.

Among other powers, the regulations give the regulating authority power to:

  • Determine information that must be submitted to the Authority by security service providers, including any person rendering a security service, operating or involved in operating RPAS
  • Determine condition under which service providers may operate or advertise services relating to the use or operation of an RPAS in accordance with the applicable laws
  • Determine guidelines for conducting assessments for security service providers operating RPAS for purposes of ensuring such RPAS are legally operated
  • Monitor security service providers operating RPAS to ensure that such operation is in accordance with all applicable laws
  • Keep a register of security service providers and employers of in-house security officers who are licenced to use, or are involved in operating RPAS for rendering security services
  • Enter into agreements with or obtain the assistance of any relevant person, institution or organ of state to conduct or assist it in conducting any investigation or perform any function in terms of these regulations.

There was no immediate information on when the rest of the regulations will be made available, but private security stakeholders hoping to add their input should get in touch with PSIRA.

You only had four weeks when the regulations were published on July 1, 2022.

The gazetting of the regulations has added a layer of importance to the impending Public Safety & Security Drone Conference, where discussions about the future of drone technology in the security industry in Southern Africa are set to take place.

The event is set for August 25 and 26 in Johannesburg, and stakeholder wishing to take part can register here.

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