Seizing a Drone

The following guidance is provided to ensure that the majority of UAV seizures are conducted following recognised best practice.​

Prior to any interaction, where possible take steps to identify the make and model of the UAV and complete research so that you are informed of the capability of the device that you have encountered, and the respective data storage locations and digital intelligence or evidential opportunities available. Prior to any interaction with the user or the UAV device, consider how to achieve the best evidence for the offence that you have witnessed occur or that you have been called to respond to.​

If, having completed this step, you believe there is a benefit in seizing the UAV device and you wish to do so then this should be completed following the 7 steps

Step 1: Drone Seizure Process

Consider Wet Forensic (DNA and Fingerprint) opportunities prior to any physical interaction with the UAV and RC. Ensure all handling of the devices is mindful of the preservation of such opportunities when considering seizure and packaging options.

For example, wear gloves, consider wet forensic hot spots (power buttons, cable areas, joysticks etc), and package carefully).

Step 2: Drone Seizure Process

Rapidly consider the proximity of connected or associated devices that the UAV may be connected with or being controlled by. 


Most UAVs have a short control range and so controllers/antennae are usually within close proximity. Attempt to locate the pilot.

Step 3: Drone Seizure Process

If possible, approach the drone from behind and obscure any cameras to prevent the drone pilot seeing you approach. Assess whether the device is on (usually indicated by lights or noise on the unit) or off.

Document the power state of the device and whether or not you have witnessed it powered on since arrival. If the device is on, review and record any information instantly available on any of its screens.

Disable the flying ability of the device (using a non-tampering measure – such as putting a coat or net over the device, or tipping it over), until confident on how to safelyhow to safely shut down the specific drone make/model without causing data corruption.

Step 4: Drone Seizure Process

Record key identifiers of the UAV including the make, model, and serial number of the device. Identifiers may appear in different locations depending on the model being handled. Some UAVs have QR codes which can be scanned to facilitate identification.

Step 5: Drone Seizure Process

If the UAV has a removable battery, remove this from the device. If there is a no removable battery, power down the device by pressing the power button once, then pressing again and holding for two seconds (for DJI models), or switch to ‘off’ (depending on the model). 

Record the time at which any one of these steps is completed. CAUTION – If battery has any signs of damage or leakage do not remove or tamper as the battery could cause injury or explosion.​

Step 6: Drone Seizure Process

Record any readily identifiable modifications to the UAV, or additional solutions and payloads which may offer additional functionality, located on the device/in the proximity of the device.

Step 7: Drone Seizure Process

Package the UAV and RC independently in separate faraday enclosures/bags to prevent over the air contamination and remote wiping. Package additional connected/associated devices in separate faraday bags, but record that they were found in proximity.

Devices linked but located separately/a distance from the device should be treated as independent exhibits and packaged accordingly.


When attending a drone incident, it is crucial that the following aspects are taken into consideration.

Your first priority is the safety of you, other emergency services and the public.

Upon arrival at the scene you must assess the scene and ensure that nobody is at risk from injury or death.

When considering approaching the drone you have to decide why is the drone there:

  • Did it crash or did it land on its own?​
  • Can you identify the intended target?​
  • Can you locate the pilot of the drone?​
  • Does the drone have a payload, is so is there an associated risk such as IED or Biohazard?

If the drone is suspected of being used as part of a terrorist incident, follow local emergency response and recovery procedure for a ‘TERRORIST INCIDENT’.

REMEMBER that the terrorist use of drones presents a clear and present danger.