Police admit drones possible in NZ
Thu, 30 Aug 2012 6:06p.m.
By Michael Morrah
Police may soon be operating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in the skies over New Zealand.
The drones are best known for hunting terror suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq, but 3 News has learned police are evaluating their use in fighting crime here as a possible alternative to police helicopters and planes.
“For example in Auckland it could be used for traffic, it could be in search and rescue or to map scenes,” says national crime manager Det Supt Rod Drew.
Police initially refused to say whether they were looking at the technology, but after 3 News complained to the Ombudsman they confirmed they are "evaluating the value of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for general operational purposes".
“It's far cheaper to have one of these small unmanned vehicles than to put up helicopters for example,” says Mr Drew.
Police and the FBI in the United States were earlier this year given permission to use them, and authorities here have already used one to take photos over Wellington's Mt Victoria, where the body of Sofia Athanassiou was found last month.
But there are concerns the technology could snoop on the innocent.
“We have to have protections before we have the technology and I think this is an important case in point,” says civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott.
“Big Brother is already here and he's becoming more and more nosy and pushy.”
But police say they will be operating within the law.
“The NZ Police is a very busy organisation, we don't have time to go around spying on people for no good reason and we certainly wouldn't do that,” says Mr Drew.
The UAV 3 News was shown has a range of about two kilometres, but advanced models can go much further.
Police will decide in six months whether the technology will be here for good.
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31/08/2012 4:24:26 p.m.
If the police can use these things, then so can we the general public and the gangs etc. There is to much surveillance of us. Like the idea of swatting or shooting them out of the sky, but I bet there will be a hefty fine for doing so. I think maybe we should walk around in for example a burqa so when we are filmed they won't know who it was. If the cops are going to invade our privacy then we have to try and counter act what they are doing. IF we tolerate this, then what next???.
31/08/2012 10:01:32 a.m.
i like the way they dont admit the use could be for surviellance of the public. Be very carefull, police in america can already use drones...its a slippery slope to total surveillance
31/08/2012 8:57:20 a.m.
All fine by me - and better a drone than the noisy choppers that make parts of Auckland like Beirut.
31/08/2012 8:35:53 a.m.
Fantastic idea, I fully endorse the police and their ideas.
31/08/2012 8:23:32 a.m.
Can we really trust the Police when they say they will be operating within the law?
For years the Police knowingly & willfully broke the law, violating our right to freedom from unreasonable search & seizure under the Bill of Rights Act. They trespassed on privately-owned land without search warrants and conducted covert video surveillance with no statutory authority to do so. They were illegally spying on New Zealand citizens. Was anyone ever held accountable? No.
Of all people, the Police should obey the law. Otherwise they're just a state funded criminal gang. When the Police violate the law they should pay the price for their unlawful behaviour; under no circumstances should their crimes be validated.
Yet, that is exactly what happened. The Police broke the law so often that the Government abused its power and rammed through retrospective legislation to make that spying legal and have granted vast extensions to the search & surveillance powers of the state.
Surveillance drones are another step along the road towards a fascist police state.
What we need is a Police force that has respect for the people of New Zealand, our civil rights & liberties, and the rule of law. Not a Police force that willfully & repeatedly breaks the law, showing contempt for the people and the principles they are supposed to serve.
What we need is a Government that acts to protect our rights against abuse by agents of the state, not a Government that excuses police misconduct by urgently rushing appalling & constitutionally offensive law changes through to legalise the illegal law-breaking of the Police.
What we urgently need is an enforceable Bill of Rights, with supremacy over other legislation. It is patently clear that the Police and the politicians cannot be trusted as guardians of our fundamental rights.
31/08/2012 2:27:53 a.m.
Drones aren't best known for hunting suspects. They are best known for killing them without trial, along with their families and their neighbours.
Domestically, they will be used to monitor 'the usual suspects', who will not be criminals, but rather citizens who threaten the comfort of the cozy few.
Domestic laws leave huge gaps that drones can fly through.
Welcome to the surveillance state.
30/08/2012 9:21:22 p.m.
Let's get it over with and get ourselves microchipped, and our cars microchipped. Get ouselves some CCTV cameras in each house and bedrooms. THEN we will finally be safe. After all, if we aren't doing anything wrong, what's the harm in being monitored?
30/08/2012 8:31:39 p.m.
Hmmmm 1984 anyone???
30/08/2012 7:34:20 p.m.
This will be more fun than shooting clay pigeons for some.
30/08/2012 7:15:24 p.m.
Citizen Appalled wrote:
Reading between the lines... these drones have already been extensively "test run" in New Zealand. Deployment over Mt Victoria is the only deployment police have been instructed to talk about. The police might not have the time to spy on people for no good reason but somebody else certainly does and has been (including several agencies from New Zealand and further afar).
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