Chopper Copper: Spy In The Sky Unveiled
Updated: 15:10, Monday May 21, 2007
The latest weapon in the war against crime has been unveiled - a remote controlled "spy in the sky".
Merseyside Police are the first in the UK to test the device, which has evolved from military reconnaissance work.
The mini helicopter, fitted with CCTV and night vision cameras, will be used by officers to track criminals and record anti-social behaviour.
It is only one metre wide, weighs less than a bag of sugar, is virtually silent, can be scrambled in three minutes and is able to record images from a height of 500m.
Assistant Merseyside chief constable Simon Byrne rejected concerns about privacy.
He said: "People clamour for the feeling of safety which cameras give.
"Obviously there is a point of view that has been expressed but our feedback from the public is anything we can do to fight crime is a good thing.
"There are safeguards in place legally covering the use of CCTV and the higher the level of intrusion, the higher the level of authority needed within the police force to use it. So there is that balance there."
The drone will be initially used for monitoring public disorder, large crowds and traffic disruption while possible use in firearms operations is being studied.
It can beam back images to control rooms or support vehicles and can be flown by remote control or be pre-programmed using GPS navigation systems.
It is expected to be operational by June and will be given a three-month trial.