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    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2010

    British Police to Monitor Civilians with UAVs by 2012

    By Stuart Fox
    Posted 01.28.2010

    In a move sure to generate plenty of Orwell name-drops in the Boing Boing comments section, the British police have begun developing UAVs for the surveillance of domestic civilians. The British police hope to have a national UAV system in operation by the 2012 Olympics in London, so they can watch out for any disturbances.

    Britain already has far fewer restrictions on government monitoring than the US, with much of London currently covered by CCTV cameras. However, this development would greatly expand how much of the country the police continually monitor. The program, spearheaded by the Kent Police Department, is a spin off of the South Coast Partnership, an effort to us UAVs to monitor England's southern coast.

  1.  (7715.2)
    On the plus side one can take aim at them without worrying about live people who are real and have families. You can just blow the fuckers up by whatever means possible and be safe in th knowledge that little Johnny's dad isn't going to be wormfood.
  2.  (7715.3)
    Well, unless you ARE little Johnny's dad. Then you can be utmost certain you'll be wormfood after The Queen has her way with you.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010 edited
    Once again, a 'surveillance society' scare story that can pretty much be ignored safely.

    Every police force in England was bought an 'Optica' spotter plane in the mid 90s, to fear and applause in equal measure. About three years later, only the one in Hampshire was still flying, as a mixture of natural staff wastage, failure to allocate budget for maintenance or fuel, and general lack of success meant the programme was allowed to fail.

    Basically, it just wasn't thought through, and there was no infrastructure plan behind them, so as soon as anyone with the skills to operate them switched departments or retired, they weren't replaced. I can see the UAV thing happening for the Olympics, because if they're going to be putting missile destroyers in the Thames estuary and having the SBS protecting the sailing events, then the money'll be there and it is vaguely sensible.

    But so far as monitoring your everyday villainous scrote is concerned, meh, nothing to worry about, it's just tabloid readers nightmare fuel.
  3.  (7715.5)
    So the country's massive debt is going to be solved by wasting money on a surveillance program that I highly doubt will even get off the ground. Seriously. Oddcult's points regarding the Optica will turn out to be true in this situation as well: failure to allocate adequate budgets, lack of infrastructure and wastage will kill this thing off pretty damn quickly.
  4.  (7715.6)
    Another toy for the cops to play with get bored with and then stuff in the cupboard to collect dust lucky bastards have all the fun.
  5.  (7715.7)
    Hell, I trust the police. These will be used to help little old ladies across the road and locate kittens stuck in trees. That's all. They may even be equipped with loudhailers with the voices of children, to gently and cutely remind citizens not to litter. Everyone who thinks otherwise is GUILTY OF THOUGHTCRIME.

    it's just tabloid readers nightmare fuel

    eh? I thought they loved this sort of shit? As long as it only watches foreigners and benefit cheats and not the hard-pressed motorist/honest taxpayer etc...
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
    "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a toy airplane flying over the British countryside‚ÄĒforever."
  6.  (7715.9)
    @ Sobreiro. Funny and yet disquietingly apt.
  7.  (7715.10)
    I also think this is a "non-problem". 24/7 UAV patrols might sound fine in theory (or "freaky", depending which side of the issue you're on), but in real life, those UAV's will only be used in special cases (like the aforementioned Olympics), because the raw data from the planes has to be monitored by somebody and I doubt the Metropolitan Police has enough constables to spare to assign some to watch live pictures of cows in the middle of some field in Bromley...
  8.  (7715.11)
    watch live pictures of cows in the middle of some field in Bromley

    Fool! Now the terrorists will just dress as cows when planning bad things. Wasn't there something a while back about algorithms that detected nefarious behaviour on CCTV and flagged it to an operator? Sure I read about that...
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    I'll see your Terrorist Cows and raise you California's Demon Terminator Sheep.

    Or is that Demon-Terminator Sheep?
  9.  (7715.13)
    Wasn't there something a while back about algorithms that detected nefarious behaviour on CCTV and flagged it to an operator?

    Yeah, I remember hearing about that, but also that it lead nowhere - how exactly is it going to tell between somebody looking for the detonator of their explosive vest and someone rummaging in their pocket for their handkerchief?
    Or maybe the whole system was designed to look for something like this:
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    @wings: you're just being silly, there are no cows in Bromley. No fields either. Big shopping centre though.
  10.  (7715.15)
    @roadscum - well, to tell you the truth, I've only been through the whole of Bromley once, in 1998, on my way to Rochester (I know the way from London to Rochester doesn't go anywhere near Bromley, it's a long story...) and I swear it, they had cows back then!
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeFeb 9th 2010
    @wings: yes, i've had days like that...
  11.  (7715.17)
    @roadscum - in the good old days before affordable GPS navigation, I presume...
    Although, even GPS can be quite useless sometimes, as we discovered on a recent trip to Estonia - bloody machine went out halfway through Poland on our return trip, and we would have gone round in circles forever (especially through Slovakia, which happens to be remarkably sign-less ), have we not had a regular map and compass (packed by yours truly, the resident paranoid SOB).

    Anyway, enough of this of topic talk, and back to the subject of police UAVs. Or how they call them now in the US Air Force, RPAs (Remote Piloted Aircraft), so that their operators can also be called "pilots", to the outrage of real military pilots everywhere...
  12.  (7715.18)
    I once knew a cow from Bromley. I would imagine she was not alone. I guess she grazes in said shopping centre.

    You know what? I live in an area of Glasgow which was terrible for violent crime kickings stabbings and beatings happened outside my window almost every weekend at closing time, this stopped almost completely about 18 months ago due to a surprising use of technology. They changed the streetlights bulbs from urban violence orange to bright daylight white. That's it. Nuts I know but since then I have not seen nor heard of one instance of drunken thuggery.
    • CommentAuthorroadscum
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2010
    GPS? GPS? I've been driving lorries for over twenty years! I don't need a little box to get me stuck down some tiny little lane in Kent...

    ...i'm quite capable of doing that all by myself.

    Sorry, back to surveillance, i really am dragged in both directions at once there. I believe things are different in the US, but as it says in the first post up there, there's a hell of a lot of it here and not just in London, pick any town you like and there are pretty much cameras on every corner, at least in the centres. And then there are all the numberplate recognition cameras, don't get me started about all of them...

    It certainly looks like big brother has an eye on us all here and could probably pick us up wherever we are if he wanted. Provided he could pick us out in the masses of data coming in. Still, not exactly reassuring if you tend to disagree with a lot of government policy and are known for 'being a bit awkward' in the wrong places.


    I've mentioned how lovely it is where i live in other posts, one particularly delightful feature is the happy little gang of teens who hang around on my corner most nights, spraying crappy looking tags on my garden wall, fighting, shouting and (twice now) shinning up the drainpipe outside my kitchen and trying to get in when they think i'm out. Them and the occasional 'poundland' quality skag whore on the corner when it gets too hot to work up the road in Ilford. Oh yes, and the chaps in the BMWs who stop next to each other in the middle of the road and exchange bundles of £50 notes.

    You know what? If they said they wanted to put a camera on my corner and needed some money, i'd offer to pay for the bloody thing. A lot of people round here would. What can you do? Eh? - Ok, sort out our society and government and make the country a better, fairer place. But in the meantime, can i have my camera please? Even if you will use it to hang me later.

    Still, at least there might be airships...
  13.  (7715.20)
    @Roadscum I got rid of the gang of neds who were kicking around outside my flat by playing "La Boheme" really loud after hearing Newcastle Council and shopping centres had done a similar thing. I thought "shite!" tested it out and was proven wrong, it works.

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