The London Metropolitan Police have been secretly using super-sensitive cameras and sound recorders on its Air Support Unit helicopters, raising fears that the government is spying on the lives of ordinary British citizens in violation of their civil liberties.
East London residents have recently become used to regular flights by the choppers based at Lippitts Hill out in Epping Forest.
However, the NBC News channel has revealed the aircraft are using cameras that allow their operators to recognize the color of one’s clothes from over one kilometer away, thanks to their ‘spotter scope’ x1000 zoom capability.
The cameras are reportedly able to see on rooftops and other inaccessible places very clearly with "as much detail as they need to" in a fashion that allows a “good clothing description” of their target.
This is while the choppers are also equipped with “multiple number of recorders” that enable them to gather evidence that is “not just visual, it’s audio as well.”
The police have claimed the capability will be put to use during the Olympics and public order situations to "facilitate crowd movement and crowds dynamics.”
The Met's Sergeant Richard Brandon told NBC that the cameras will provide "reassurance for the public" during the Games.
However, in the context of the government’s ongoing efforts to draft a law to increase its surveillance powers on the public’s emails and social media and the revelations back in February that councils have spent half a billion pounds (£515m) on CCTV cameras in four years, a big question remains hanging in the air: whether the government is to breach the public’s civil liberties to ‘reassure’ their security.