Plump sort of spy that should be ready first.

Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the “routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.

Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

Golly. You mean the British government wasn’t keeping the public informed?

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

More serious hardware – a little bit later – possibly unarmed.

They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates UK airspace, has been told by BAE and Kent police that civilian UAVs would “greatly extend” the government’s surveillance capacity and “revolutionise policing”. The CAA is currently reluctant to license UAVs in normal airspace because of the risk of collisions with other aircraft, but adequate “sense and avoid” systems for drones are only a few years away.

Five other police forces have signed up to the scheme, which is considered a pilot preceding the countrywide adoption of the technology for “surveillance, monitoring and evidence gathering”. The partnership’s stated mission is to introduce drones “into the routine work of the police, border authorities and other government agencies” across the UK.

  1. brm says:

    I find the irony unbearably hilarious.

  2. RTaylor says:

    A move to perfect a society will destroy it. People needs to recognize their mortality and stop being afraid. You will die, its how much it get out of the part before that counts. Life in a bunker isn’t my idea of living. Rational precautions are fine, but governments are behaving irrationally.

  3. Father says:

    I’m all in favor of spending $100,000,000,000,000 to stamp out $25,000 worth of criminal activity. We should, in the US, try to spend even more, as it will create “jobs”.

  4. McCullough says:

    Not just the Brits…it’s being “secretly” tested in Texas now.

  5. jccalhoun says:

    The insane part is that the UK already has one cctv camera for every 14 people in the UK.
    The BBC program “Who’s Watching You” showed that they have cameras with speakers on them so that if someone is doing something as minor as littering the person watching the camera can yell at the people to pick up the litter.

  6. Floyd says:

    “Secretly” tested in Texas…how long will those blimps stay up in a state where half the trucks on the road already have a loaded rifle in the back window??

  7. sargasso says:

    I had to Google “fly-tipping”.

  8. deowll says:

    Drones are a heck of a lot cheaper than choppers to buy, fly, and maintain and they have better all weather utility and make a heck of a lot less noise. My community can’t afford a chopper much less the cost of operating the thing but a small remote control drone with a camera just might make our budget cut.

    The Brits already have cameras all over the freaking place but when you need what the camera saw it often turns out that nobody was recording because it costs to much to store all the video and the higher the resolution the more it costs to store.

  9. Father says:

    “better all weather utility”

    It can SEE through rain and heavy clouds better than a helicopter?

  10. Uncle Patso says:

    Yesterday as I was driving home from running some errands, I noticed eight or ten large flocks of migrating birds, including several flocks of geese. How many of these things will be destroyed by bird hits during migration season and fall in populated areas?

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