Met Chief Sir Ian Blair could be among 31,000 officers to receive the new electronic tracking device
Every single Metropolitan police officer will be ‘microchipped’ so top brass can monitor their movements on a Big Brother style tracking scheme, it can be revealed today.
According to respected industry magazine Police Review, the plan – which affects all 31,000 serving officers in the Met, including Sir Ian Blair – is set to replace the unreliable Airwave radio system currently used to help monitor officer’s movements.
The new electronic tracking device – called the Automated Personal Location System (APLS) – means that officers will never be out of range of supervising officers.
But many serving officers fear being turned into “Robocops” – controlled by bosses who have not been out on the beat in years.
According to service providers Telent, the new technology ‘will enable operators in the Service’s operations centres to identify the location of each police officer’ at any time they are on duty – whether overground or underground.
Although police chiefs say the new technology is about ‘improving officer safety’ and reacting to incidents more quickly, many rank and file believe it is just a Big Brother style system to keep tabs on them and make sure they don’t ‘doze off on duty’.
Some officers are concerned that the system – which will be able to pinpoint any of the 31,000 officers in the Met to within a few feet of their location – will put a complete end to community policing and leave officers purely at the beck and call of control room staff rather than reacting to members of the public on the ground.
Pete Smyth, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said: “This could be very good for officers’ safety but it could also involve an element of Big Brother.
“We need to look at it very carefully.”
Other officers, however, were more scathing, saying the new system – set to be implemented within the next few weeks – will turn them into ‘Robocops’ simply obeying instructions from above rather than using their own judgement.
One officer, working in Peckham, south London, said: “They are keeping the exact workings of the system very hush-hush at the moment – although it will be similar to the way criminals are electronically tagged. There will not be any choice about wearing one.