The all-seeing eye – now flies!

Another milestone was passed last weekend in the creation of the Great British Police State. Pilotless CCTV drones watched the crowds at the V Festival, the first time such surveillance has been used at a major public event. The V Festival isn’t renowned for its crime. In fact, it’s relatively free of the sort of violent thuggery that’s become the hallmark of Britain’s CCTV-saturated streets.

No matter. Such is the government’s faith in this modern-day snake oil that it is rolled out without thought. While the drones were written about by BBC Online, the Guardian, and this very interesting blog of the CCTV industry, it seems there is very little justification from the public bodies actually utilizing this form of surveillance.

Staffordshire Police’s decision to use pilotless CCTV drones seems to have come out of nowhere with the festival attendees given little advanced notice (if any?) of the surveillance. I’ve put in a freedom of information request asking a few questions:

1. Who authorised this use and what was the cost?
2. Was an evaluation made on the legality and safety of such use? If so, please supply a copy of these evaluations.
3. Was an analysis conducted as required by the Data Protection Act 1998? If so, please supply a copy of this analysis.
4. What type and number of records were collected? (For example: 72 hours of video footage, 200 photographs, etc)
5. What was done with these records? By this I mean what was done specifically with these particular records rather than your generic records disposal policy or general ‘best-practice’ guidelines.
6. What details or notice was given about the surveillance?
7. Will the drones be used in future and what is the policy of use (please supply a copy of the use policy. If such a policy does not exist please explain why).
8. How many officers are needed to control the drone and what sort of training do they have for this task?

If anyone else feels like making similar enquiries then you can of course make a request to:

Information Compliance Unit
Staffordshire Police Headquarters
Cannock Road
Stafford ST17 0QG
Email: [email protected]

One Response to “The all-seeing eye – now flies!”

  1. IanP says:

    Would this particular use of the Drone fall under the overt or covert surveillance rules.

    If so, a whole new set of authorisations and documents would be available.

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