Police used drone to spy on V Festival

'Eye in the sky' prompts privacy fears

Police used drone to spy on V Festival

21 August 2007

According to The Guardian, the flying surveillance device was used to spy on crowds at this weekend's event in Weston Park, Staffordshire.

Car parks were targetted and intelligence was gathered on individuals suspected to be selling drugs or committing other crimes. 

Staffordshire Police said the drone's images did not lead directly to any arrests and it was not flown over the main arenas in case it fell into the crowd causing injury.

The drone can take high-resolution stills or colour video cameras and has an infrared night vision capability, raising human rights questions on the privacy of the thousands who attended.
 
At just 70cm wide, the spying device is so quiet it cannot be heard from the ground once higher than 50 metres, and at 100 metres up it cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Originally invented for military use, the drones have previously been used to prevent anti-social order situations. One tactic used by police is to fly them low over the heads of young people causing trouble.

The Metropolitan Police are keen to use the spy planes to keep tabs on the Olympics and there is no legal barrier to stop them being used at future festivals.

However, some experts fear it represents an unwarranted intrusion of privacy.

Noel Sharkey, an expert in robotics at Sheffield University who is worried about the increasing use of robotic vehicles in military conflicts and policing, said: "We should find out whether the public wants this.

"How long will it be before someone gets Tasered from the air for dropping litter, or even for relieving themselves down an alleyway under cover of night?"

What do you think? Should law abiding festival goers accept an invasion of privacy to help stop dealers and thieves? Or are the police unecessarily spying on thousands of festival goers in way that would make George Orwell turn in his grave? Comment below...


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