Orwell Rolls in Grave as Police Roll Out Unprecedented Drone Air Force to “Track Anti-Social Behaviour”

Monday, March 27, 2017
By Paul Martin

Annabelle Bamforth
March 27, 2017

The Devon and Cornwall police force, tasked with the patrol of the largest geographical area in England, are pioneering perpetual drone surveillance by establishing an unprecedented 24-hour drone surveillance of its patrol area set to begin this summer.

The police drones, also identified as “unmanned aerial systems,” have undergone smaller tests last year. Multiple reports state that the drones will mostly be used for locating crime suspects and missing persons as well as surveillance of crime scenes.

Steve Barry, the UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman regarding police drones, touted the cost savings of choosing these devices rather than deploying police helicopters; according to a report from The Daily Mail, Barry predicts “forces across Britain would soon be using them as they are cheaper than helicopters and can perform some duties of bobbies on the beat.” The does not specify how deeply these police drones will be able to inspect individuals, including in regards to audio capacity.

The Mail noted that Barry has pondered the possibility of drones replacing some officers and said “there may be an opportunity at some point in the future to rationalise what we need our cops to do because we find drones can do it more effectively and more cost-efficiently.” However, Barry did not indicate that he approves of a reduced police force in favor of the devices, and other officers and experts were quoted in the report as viewing drones as a supplement for police rather than their replacement.

Drones indeed have a unique ability to scope areas that officers cannot approach on foot. A report published by the Cato Institute acknowledged that drones “allow police to investigate dangerous situations such as bomb threats and toxic spills.” These devices can seen as an advantage for civilians in peril, but they also serve as a troubling mechanism of undermining the personal privacy of a large population.

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