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Peers urge for greater scrutiny of police camera drones

Two Labour peers are campaigning for greater parliamentary scrutiny of police plans to use surveillance cameras mounted on drones.

It has recently been revealed that police forces across England and Wales could deploy the technology. Civil liberties concerns are mounting after it emerged that police forces were seeking information about drone-mounted cameras capable of filming high-quality live footage from 1,500ft away.

The Home Office has stated that the use of drone-mounted cameras could allow 46 police forces in England and Wales to reduce the noise and carbon emissions created by helicopters carrying out surveillance during operations.

Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the civil rights advocacy group Liberty, has tabled an amendment to the Police Bill that would require the Home Secretary to approve the use of new ‘weapons, surveillance equipment or investigatory technology’.

Former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain is also backing the amendment, saying that Parliament should be able to scrutinise the use of such technology, rather than leaving it as ‘a matter for exclusive police discretion’. He has raised concerns about the role of private companies supplying the technology and warned that high-powered drones could be used to target legitimate protesters.

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