Police in Queensland, Australia, are testing a hi-tech surveillance UAS that can be used to chase criminals, detect drug crops and find missing people all at a fraction of the cost of a helicopter.
A police spokesman confirmed testing was under way but would not give details on what the drone would be used for. “The Queensland Police (Service) is always inquiring about, and scoping, new technology in the marketplace,” he said. ”As the QPS is in a research-and-testing stage to determine viability of this particular product, we are not in a position to make further comment.”
Police Federation of Australia chief executive Mark Burgess said he was aware of several police jurisdictions trialing unmanned aircraft. ”They could be used for things like surveillance of areas where it might be difficult to get personnel on the ground,” he said, adding he was unsure how advanced testing was with state police forces.
“Drones will add value to what we already do, but I can’t see them totally replacing helicopters,” he said. ”They can’t land equipment and they can’t land personnel.The reality is, they will be one of the tools in the armory.”
But Australian Council of Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman last night warned police should not be testing drones without “immediate input and oversight” from Queensland’s Privacy Commissioner. “The potential for abuse is very worrying,” he said.
“Our concerns are we will get softened up by police who will say it will only be used to spot drug crops, or detect traffic snarls but, in due course, they will end up being used for everyday, mundane policing situations and that is a real concern.
“We are not objecting to drones – we would be Luddites to do so – but the ease with which drones can be used to spy on private property is concerning.
“This again raises our longstanding criticism that we’ve had of the Queensland Police Service that the slightest amendment to legislation has to go through Parliament, yet, major changes like these can go through with no parliamentary input at all.”
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Australian Certified UAV Operators Association president Joe Urli said that UAS were a “must have” for any modern police force. ”They can be used to gain a tactical advantage over a situation or to eliminate the risk of a police officer going into an unsafe situation,” Mr Urli said.
He said that UAS were already being used for biosecurity, crop monitoring and bushfire monitoring as well as search and rescue operations in Australia.
Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said that there was a growing interest in unmanned aerial vehicles in Australia, but any police force wanting to use the vehicles would need to apply for an operators’ certificates, the same as everyone else.
Source: Courrier Mail