U.K. authorities expect to begin using much bigger and more powerful UAVs, and in a significantly expanded fashion, in the near future. According to documents obtained byThe Guardian, Britain’s Home Office plans to use military-style UAVs to police the 2012 summer Olympics. In addition, six local U.K. police agencies have joined together for a pilot project to use UAVs for “surveillance, monitoring and evidence gathering.” Officials hope UAVs will be installed in “the routine work of the police, border authorities and other government agencies” across the United Kingdom.
Thus far, the Civil Aviation Authority, the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the FAA, has resisted the licensing of such aircraft in “normal” airspace due to fears of collisions, but the rapid development of “sense and avoid” technology may lay these worries to rest within a few years. Despite the implications of everyday reliance on UAVs, says Stephen Graham, Professor of Cities and Society at Newcastle University, “broader concern about the regulation and control of drone surveillance of British civilian life has been notable by its absence.” Graham worries that the needed regulatory mechanisms are not in place in the United Kingdom to “prevent law enforcement agencies from abusing radical extensions in their powers to vertically and covertly spy on all aspects of civilian life 24 hours a day.”
A question (maybe for Chris Williams). Why is the British securocracy particularly keen on this kind of policing, compared to other countries? We know that there are more CCTV cameras in Britain than anywhere else, and this seems to be envisioned as mobile CCTV.