New Zealand police begin using drones to survey crime scenes

New Zealand police have followed the likes of the US and UK and started to deploy drones at some crime scenes.

We’ve already brought you stories from states like New York and California, both of which have incorporated drones into their police forces while drawing the ire of civil libertarian groups.

Not surprisingly, locals in New Zealand have reacted in a similar manner to groups overseas – with concerns about privacy and state overreach.

According to the Otago Daily Times, police in Southern regions of Dunedin and Southland have thus far only used drones to record and map the boundaries of crime scenes. Kiwi police have not yet acquired their own drones but instead, hired professional UAV operators to assist them in gathering evidence.

Scenarios that police are most likely to be using drones for include search and rescue operations, mapping crime scenes or gathering evidence at car crashes.

The ODT spoke with New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties chairman Thomas Beagle. He said that while he has no issue in principle with police using drones, he would object if they began to be used as proactive surveillance tools.

“We have become normalised to fixed cameras … I don’t think we want drone surveillance to be normalised,” he said.

As we’ve explained before, drones are already capable of using facial recognition technology to identify particular individuals within crowds as well as use pattern recognition to know if a person is behaving aggressively (based on their body language and gestures). These capabilities are what many people find unnerving, particularly when you imagine police in authoritarian countries deploying the drones against so-called enemies of a regime (which may be merely be peaceful protestors).

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