back to article Plods scrap crap stealth spy blimp

Disappointed plods in Manchester have scrapped a cunning surveillance balloon intended to provide "eye in the sky" capability at less cost than police helicopters. The aerostat apparently could not cope with bad weather. "It's become something of a joke," a police source told the Manchester Evening News, which broke the story …

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"especially in the current climate"

He he.

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In the current climate?

"We experienced a number of technical and other problems with the blimp and it was decided, especially in the current climate, that it was neither cost effective nor operationally viable to maintain"

So they are advocates FOR climate change then?

Makes a change, I suppose.

I'm all for a Mediterranean climate here.

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Black Helicopters

As a Manchester resident,

Knowing the Heli is up there helps me sleep more often than it wakes me up.

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Coat

The appropriate term

is Manchester inmate!

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Anonymous Coward

Are they keeping their Reaper and israeli drones?

Aren't they the force that evaluated the Reaper and some of the Israeli drones as well as at least one of the unmanned helicopter jobs?

It will be interesting what is going on with these in the current "climate".

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FAIL

5 Plods to control a bloody BALLOON?

The man-power requirements for such a project should have deemed this unfeasible after the first 5 minutes of discussion.

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Anonymous Coward

360 degree cameras

Presumably with zoom, etc.

3 observers + balloon driver + truck driver.

Seems reasonable to me.

If any other Force fancies a try at this, I think a greater initial outlay for a tougher balloon and better camera system would, over time, make it a very efficient system.

Don't know how high it goes, but the "secrecy" might have been to stop it becoming a handy, slow-moving target for every air-rifle or catapult bearing chav and rocket firing geek in town.

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Megaphone

Cheap at twice the price

Have they considered targeted advertising? Fenchurch or Lonsdale adds on the balloon, and presto the thing pays for itself (by day).

I guess that legally policework cannot be sustained by commercial incomes, pity here but necessary in general.

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Create a "Baloon Partnership"

The workaround for that is well known. So instead of Safety Camera Partnerships we will have Baloon Partnerships, Predator Drone Partnerships, Reaper Drone Partnerships and A10-Warthog-On-Policing-Duty partnerships.

Though personally, I would prefer my tax money to go to a "Plod-On-Foot-Not-Scared-Of-The-Population" partnership.

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"plod on foot"

That's just crazy talk!

My sister once claimed to have seen one, but it later turned out to be an airline pilot on his way home.

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Happy

Rain? In Manchester!?

Who would have thunk a camera not able to cope with rain would be no good in Manchester?

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Thumb Up

Those blimps are brilliant in reality

Assuming it is much the same as the one rented in by Scottish police at T in the Park, they are incredible bits of kit. In fact they are so good that if you watch the BBC footage of T what you usually see when you see shots from helicopters is actually the shot (in HD) remotely on the blimp.

The resolution, zoom and stabilisation were eyeopening - we filmed the red arrows display, and followed a small plane doing a flyby for about a mile - we could still read its number - with a noticable breeze outside.

That is of course assuming they use the same cameras. These were the same ones used in big budget filming that are hooked onto helis (I know they were used on Harry Potter as thats the last job it was on when I saw it last year) and cost *a lot* - way more than the quoted budget of the scheme

Of course, a great blimp on a very long leash it wasn't great when the wind got above about f4 as it had to be brought in/lower...

(Before the comments come back, yes it was authorised use of CCTV when not doing filming for the BBC and yes we were all licensed and no we didnt intrude on anyones privacy there)

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Joke

So what Plod was saying-

Is that it wasn't much cop...

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Anonymous Coward

Risk of trying out things.

Sometimes they just don't work. Better to axe when it's clear it won't work and it's still cheap to do so, no?

Might be that they hadn't the right gear, like no suitably stabilized cameras and such, can't tell from the reporting. I don't know if five plod was too much or not enough; handling a large blimp takes quite a few people. Though I don't know if you'd need to assign them permanently. Train three or four times as much handlers as you need and assign them when needed, leaving them for regular work otherwise. But that's all operational detail and I would expect a well-run organisation to think of that sort of thing themselves.

OTOH, blimps have been deployed previously elsewhere both for police and for broadcasting, to apparently better success. So it would be useful to compare notes and see why it didn't work here.

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FAIL

Testing?

What berk bought this without testing it outside first?

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Incredible

Who'd have thought the cloud deck in Manchester was ever much above head-height?

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Autogyro

rated to fly over urban areas? It would need to be twin engined. Are there any?

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Autogyro - not a chance, its British

You'd never get the British police to use British taxpayers money to buy British products... not ever, not one chance, not a snowballs chance in hell....

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heli drone?

Wasn't there an article with about a 4-rotor, remote-controlled/semi-autonomous helicopter being used as a surveillance platform?

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A shame

Shame, as it was actually a good idea. A very good idea. Unlike South Cheshire plod, who bought a fixed wing aircraft....

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Linux

Lifter tech FTW

Google "electrostatic Lifter"

these things fly just fine using corona wire and a ground plane made of conductive foil, and have virtually no wind resistance due to the open construction.

Have it store energy during the day for running at night, with the advantage that it works fine in windy conditions.

with suitable electrode design and a lightweight power supply made of series connected piezo transformers under oil they could be built for £4000 easily and treated as disposable.

AC, because this is probably still covered under the Fifty Year rule..

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WTF?

Airborne Plods are vanity air forces for ACPO

I was amazed to read London had 7 helicopters, with air to ground video, flying around.

How can this extravagance be justified?

Why not buy some of those car portable units they use in the USA at far less cost? And I don't mean full size drones, these are more like large model aircraft.

A few years ago I spent a few nights in the area policed by loser Thames Valley Plod and they had deployed their helicopter in a field awaiting some car thieves to do their thing. I was sleeping about a mile away and what awoke me was the incessant radio chatter.

Needless to say, they never caught the car thieves. Perhaps they were awaiting DEAF car thieves,

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Joke

New arial surveilence option

Trebuchet - Only takes 1 plod - we can motorise the winching and release. They may have to have a 2nd plod to guard the landing pad, but depending on who was due to be launched, that would be optional

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