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Manchester Surveillance Blimp Axed

November 12, 2010

The axed Manchester Police drone (Guardian)

Police in Manchester, UK, have axed a tethered surveillance balloon that cost them 80,000 GBP (around $130,000 US). The supposedly covert balloon – if a large white blimp with ‘POLICE’ written on the side in big blue letters can be called ‘covert’ – had been intended to be used for monitoring of public order at large-scale events. However it was a victim of a more conventional Manchester problem – bad weather. Apparently it did not function very well in wet and windy weather. One would have thought that this might have occurred to the police of a notoriously wet and windy town…

This might seem like a victory for anti-surveillance forces, but of course, this will only increase the pressure for more versatile and weather-proof aerial surveillance, i.e. the micro-UAVs (or camera drones) that several other forces have already purchased, not to mention the more expensive powered high-level surveillance airships of the kind specified in the secret South-Coast Partnership report on drone surveillance.

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