back to article Met police plans to track cops by GPS

The Metropolitan police is planning to spend £2.2m to track its entire plod force by GPS, proving that even Scotland Yard knows you can never find a policeman when you need one. Trials of the system across two boroughs are set for this the autumn before an expected roll-out across London. A spokeswoman for the Met said: "It's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That'd be a handy thing... get a feed off if you were planning a heist...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Good start, when can we start tracking MP's?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    White heat of technology

    There's a slightly smaller police force quite close to Leeds that has been doing this since 2005.

  4. Dave Bell

    Evening All

    While radio has made a huge difference, contacting police officers and knowing where they are has always been important for the Police.

    This isn't the Heartbeat era, when most police officers spent most of their time alone and unsuppported, but they had to make specific meetings with other officers, at set times and places, all through the day.

    But there's an obvious danger: if the people in their offices know exactly where you are, will they be lured into micromanagement? "PC 49, why are you standing still when you are supposed to cover four miles of foot patrol every hour?"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given me an idea...

    If you can track police officers patrolling in cars, built up areas and inside buildings etc, then surely you could also track criminals, instead of prisons we could just keep people in an electronically enforced curfew, it would save millions...

    I must try persuade the government to do a trial of it...

  6. Solomon Grundy

    Police Micromanagement

    That's exactly what police need, micromanagement. Most are incapable of making decisions on their own and need to know exactly what to do and when to do it. If they aren't getting to rough someone up or shoot foreigners in Tube stations they are in way over their head.

    Can the public get a feed that locations the officers? That would be nice as you could actually locate one and go for help instead of waiting for them to find you.

  7. yeah, right.


    That they aren't already doing this. Don't they already know where the coppers are? Maybe they should incorporate telemetry (heartrate, breathing, etc.) to be able to determine the level of fitness for these guys. "PC 23, you're only moving at 4 kph but your heartrate is at 180. Report to the gym trainer for further instructions at the end of your shift."

  8. David Somers
    Black Helicopters

    Not a lot of use.

    We are about to go live with an airwave/TETRA system with the ambulance service in Scotland and though excited about it I wouldn't want to rely on it for positioning. I've heard umpteen stories from the police about poor coverage, system drop outs and just plain no-one listening.

    As far as big brother is concerned, I'd be more worried about an Airwave operator's ability to listen in without warning the user (yes, apparently the display will indicate this is happening but with a radio on your chest you're not going to notice that). We are assured that this capability will not be abused and is purely for crew safety. Whatever.

  9. Gareth

    Implications for private employers?

    "While they are on duty as a Metropolitan Police officer it is entirely justified that the MPS can locate their position for operational purposes, and the public should be able to expect this.""

    Should the state be able to track it's employees to ensure that taxpayer funds are being well spent?

    How about truck drivers at private companies?

    How about pizza delivery kids?

    How about Starbucks workers? (Computer says you've had 30 smoke breaks this week... and what were you and Sarah doing in the storage closet for half an hour last Wednesday?)

    These issues need to be debated and sorted out now before the technology/free market does it for us. Technology appears to be defaulting to the 'most monitored' solution as gadgets get cheaper and smaller, but history shows that all heavily monitored societies result in terrible injustices and abuses. If we don't sort these issues out now, the implications for the future could be rather bad.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    foot patrol !!

    What's that then. Not seen a copper patroling on foot ( going from car to doughnut shot doesn't count) for years.

  11. Alistair

    We already do it in Durham

    We already track vehicles and pocket sets (for the last year in fact).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >How about truck drivers at private companies?

    You mean like this?

    or this?

    or this?

    >These issues need to be debated and sorted out now before

    >the technology/free market does it for us.


  13. Mike Richards


    Should work well just so long as London doesn't have any cars and buildings or a large subterranean railway network.

  14. Sooty


    "How about truck drivers at private companies?"

    Frankly I'd be surprised if a company didn't monitor its trucks by GPS, unless its illegal. In a job like the police, where you could be anywhere over a large distance, but need to be exactly where you're supposed to be, i think tracking is perfectly acceptable.

    on an unrelated note, i can't miss this opportunity to have a dig at the NHS - I also think doctors should be lo-jacked and their exact location posted on the wall of their waiting room so that you can see exactly which golf course they are on when they don't turn up for your appointments :) its amazing how they have posters saying so many patients missed an appointment in the last month, but no mention of how many doctors miss them too.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Cheaper option

    Wouldn't it just be cheaper to install a webcam in the local chippie? (shop, not carpenter!)

  16. Steve

    Lets take their biometrics too

    We could see how many unsolved crimes are committed by the oinks.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What hypocrites the police are

    The police are always asking for more and more laws to force big brother on to the general public, BUT then when it comes to their being the subject of "surveillance" they shout ,quote "....The Police Federation, which represents all UK police, said GPS tracking of officers could be useful but it was concerned at the Big Brother overtones, according to reports...." End Quote. Well then Mr Plod , see how you like it and stop complaining !.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Speeding fines for police?

    Hmmm... are speeding fines issued to police officers who are going "over the limit" but aren't engaged in an emergency?

  19. Aditya Krishnan
    Paris Hilton


    TK-421, why aren't you at your post?

    She doesn't know either.

  20. Walter Brown


    that the UK hadn't implemented that long ago! right along side all of the CCTV cameras you smile for each day. but i guess the natural order of tracking progression is people > police.

    i live in arizona, in the greater phoenix area, I'm not sure about the police force here, but phoenix fire department and most of the surrounding departments have been using such technology for several years, it was implemented after a phoenix firefighter was killed in a grocery store fire in 2001. the fire department i work for rolled it out in late 02 early 03. so its nothing new really...

  21. Waldo

    Big brother is watching us now as well Sir........move along please....

    Oh priceless, I jes love this land of ours. Free from invasion of privacy for all.

    Now George Dixon will have to watch out when he is having a crafty fag whilst "monitoring the correct application of closing time..." ;-))

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The name of the chip is...................

    The most apt name so far is.......

    The "WhereTheF*ckAreThey" chip.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    err ....

    Don't these guys all have nokia mobile phones attached to their body armour already...

    Now if i remember rightly.. any idiot can get a phones location tracked via any of the operators for £20 a month or so.

    I've worked for companies that have done this with phones imposed on their contractors.(cough,,, cough,,, IBM! and Co..)

    If i was working for the MET' as a foot soldier i'd be very worried about the additional burden of more useless IT junk to be carried about and even more about the effects of being effectivly a walking mobile phone mast.

    Oh well it's probably for the best,

    in the long run,

    as they wont have so many coppers reaching pension age and so wont have to fork out the huge amounts they don't have for thier pension schemes.

    I'm Sure their Union will eventually sort it out.....maybe...

    (how to do a public service for the beliegured irradiated copper on the beat,(use a jammer on him) that way he won't be feeling The-Force so badly)

    (well it would be nice if they got a chance to do some real work for a change)

    Mines the Flourescent Stripy StormTrooper(tin-foil lined) Jacket with the mobile-phone-Antenna'd-Pin-Head Helmet....


  24. Ishkandar

    Oh ! Oh !

    No more "investigating of suspects" in the local or the nearest burger bar !! And, God forbid, that a PC and a WPC should be...err...stationary in one place for more than 10 minutes !!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Wrong date?

    "The Police Federation, which represents all UK police, said GPS tracking of officers could be useful but it was concerned at the Big Brother overtones, according to reports."

    Are you sure you didn't mean to post this article on April 1st?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @By Gareth

    "How about truck drivers at private companies?"

    Frankly I'd be surprised if a company didn't monitor its trucks by GPS, unless its illegal. In a job like the police, where you could be anywhere over a large distance, but need to be exactly where you're supposed to be, i think tracking is perfectly acceptable."

    This is being done in the states. It can be good or bad.

    Like when I worked at SBC. This lady claimed that repair man robbed her house. GPS proved he was no were near her house, unfortunately for him it proved that he was usingthe company vehicle to move .

  27. Mike

    @stationary in one place for more than 10 minutes !!

    you mean 2 minutes right? we all know the police are useless at *everything*

    most police vehicles are already tracked so they can get them to serious incidents (by which i mean speeders, not rape and murder) faster - however there didn't seem to be a problem the other day when 4 police cars (the entire police force?) all pulled in to the same service station at the same time to take a break - so i don't think they have to worry about micromanagers telling them off for investigating suspects at the local burger van, or telling them to get out of that toilet with their fellow WPC

    and regarding most companies tracking their vehicles, for the paranoid among you: this includes rental companies, remember that next time you get a company car from a rental firm (that'd be most company cars then - and i'm sure most companies owning their own cars fit them with trackers too)

    what i am surprised about is that when someone is suspected of committing a crime, it is extremely rare for the police to go to the vehicle tracking company (or mobile phone company) and ask for the tracking data for that person at the time of the offence - although any police reading this please don't get any ideas

  28. Curtis W. Rendon
    Black Helicopters

    Big Brother overtones...

    concerns from the cops? Who try to monitor all of Blighty via CCTV?

    I'm shocked! There is gambling at Rick's Casino...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fine idea, half baked

    It would seem the Met are unaware of the situation which prevailed in the Cumbria Constabulary in which officers used police vehicles for private social and personal purposes.

  30. Adam Foxton

    Absolutely nothing wrong with it

    As long as they're tracking police radios rather than a subdermal GPS implant for all coppers I have no problem with this.

    They'll be able to see low-coverage problems with patrols (foot or car) and assign extra patrols to them (if required)

    They'll be able to track the police vehicles- making sure that they're not used for anything improper

    They'll be able to implement "OMFG WE NEED BACKUP!" emergency panic buttons,

    Their officer-cams which I believe were suggested recently could be accurately GPS and time-stamped,

    They'll be able to more easily co-ordinate raids, car chases, etc

    They'll be able to see which municipal CCTV cameras were in view of an officer

    They'll be able to get called out to locations without a known address- "car 118, go to maitland street- bloody huge flaming riot in progress" "errr... where's that?" "here" [directions from his current location to the riot are texted to copper's mobile]

    And of course when the officer goes home, he's not tracked anymore.

    Sounds pretty good to me- and all using existing infrastructure! That can't be right, it almost makes sense!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Old News

    This system has been in place in other forces for a while. Perhaps if your horizons were a little wider than London you would know this. Then again the media only tend to notice the rest of the UK when something goes wrong.

    EL Reg, perhaps you could ring a few press officers for each of the other 42 forces and ask about it, perhaps your piece would be a little more detailed and useful.

    It certainly worthy of an article rather than just some second hand "were gona do this" crap.

  32. Reid Malenfant

    Mythbusters where are you? No. 1

    @ Curtis W. Rendon -

    concerns from the cops? Who try to monitor all of Blighty via CCTV?

    But other than a few isolated cases, the Police don’t monitor CCTV at all. This is done by your local Council, they’re the ones that own, maintain and staff CCTV; I thought that was common knowledge?

    They are provided with Police radios and, just so long as somebody is actually watching the screens - and can be arsed to bother - they may or may not report events to the Police. As you might deduce from my tone, the quality of this service varies enormously from council to council, regardless of what they themselves might claim.

    @ Mike - most police vehicles are already tracked so they can get them to serious incidents (by which I mean speeders, not rape and murder) faster

    No they’re not. Practically the only Police that derive any excitement from catching speeders are current and former ‘Roads Policing’ units - formerly the Traffic Dept. (yet another example of inane Bramshill inspired re-branding). They’re the only Police with the necessary equipment to enforce such offences.

    The plain fact is that your average Traffic Dept. seldom represents much more than 10% of the total Force. Yes they do have a general tendency to enforce with zeal (which is why other officers refer to them as Droids or similar). We find little point in challenging such zeal as they invariably point out that there are far more people killed annually on the roads than by anything else in the UK.

    A quick surf reveals: for the year 2006-7 there were 765 murders in UK, but on the roads there were 3172 fatalities and 258,404 casualties. How many families do you know who’s lost someone in a road accident? If the sole criteria was human suffering, what priority would you put on traffic enforcement? Personally, sudden death intimations are right up there on my top 10 “Shit jobs” list, especially when it involves children.

    @AC - Hmmm... are speeding fines issued to police officers who are going "over the limit" but aren't engaged in an emergency?

    Oh yes – see above comment re Droids

    @AC - The police are always asking for more and more laws to force big brother on to the general public. BUT then when it comes to their being the subject of "surveillance" they shout

    Which “The Police” are you actually talking about? Do you honestly believe that we all speak with one voice? That an organisation of 141,000+ people in 43 distinct establishments isn’t seething with discord, disagreement and dispute, in particular between management (ACPO) and workforce (Federated ranks)? Do you know anything about human nature at all?

    That’s about as realistic as stating: “Its common knowledge that everyone in IT believe that Apple OSX is by far and away the best operating system available - its been proved”, or worse still: “It’s a well known fact that Black youths always ……. (fill in something negative)“. Frankly, there are too many ludicrous and uninformed generalisations uttered on these pages, on all subjects – such is the power of the knee jerk - saves of thinking I suppose.

    The fact of the matter is that vast number of Police announcements, proclamations and policies are uttered by a very small but distinct subset, namely that Chief Officer Dream Team. This bunch of inmates-in-charge-of-the-asylum are churned out by the Bramshill Staff College and are responsible for all the nonsensical changes and hair-brained schemes that inflict the modern Police Force today. These are the guys trying to run a non-profit making public service along strictly business lines and failing miserably. Don’t be fooled, they speak for no-one but themselves.

  33. Tawakalna
    Black Helicopters


    why shouldn't the Plod be monitored and tracked? it's what they want to do to us (the public who pay their wages through burdensome council tax) they want us to sit quietly in our homes, never go out, never stand up for ourselves, monitor our whereabouts 24/7, spy on our private lives, catch us doing anything not expressly allowed even if we didn't know it was forbidden, carry useless ID cards that turn us all into criminals just for leaving it another jacket or telling a nosy Plod to get lost when he demands to "see our papers, ja!" - so why shouldn't they be subject to Big Brother type surveillance as well?

    And if you knew what coppers get up to especially late at night (police car hide and seek anyone? or get some presents for the Mrs and kids from the confiscated goods store?) you'd be demanding they get tracked. They're a shift thieving lazy bunch, on the make wherever they can.

    I know that some coppers read the Reg and post on here - don't think that some of us don't know what you get up to!

  34. The Mighty Spang
    Thumb Up


    I'm going to open a pub/cafe/brothel with farady shielding in, sit back and watch the money roll in...

  35. Anonymous Coward

    @ Mike


    If you don't want to be tracked don't use anything (and I mean anything) with a chip in it. You clearly know nothing about policing or IT.

    Oh, and you clearly haven't realised that the police do not have that many powers to snoop on you, and when they do there is huge oversight by the courts, lay persons and all sorts of people. However your local council, the Environment Agency and lots of other people have the same powers (and more) but no one oversees them.

    If the old bill want to kick your door in, they need a bloody good reason (e.g. murderous screams) or a warrant from the court. Strangely HMRC can just kick your door in, no reason required other than they didn't like the answers on your VAT/Tax return.

    Like a lot of people you're focused on the police as the "enemy" yet they are heavily regulated and supervised by guardian readers. Meanwhile NuLab has given any halfwit at the council the power to snoop on you or enter your premises, even if you aren't killing anyone or running a cannabis farm.

    Take the kids out of school for a day, the LEA will have private detectives following you for weeks before they get social services involved for you giving them an "unhealthy" chip supper. The fascist state is here, its just you haven't realised who the real fascists are. Take a look at who has RIPA powers - if only it was just the police. Do you really trust the local council tax department more than the police. Do councils have an IPCC when you find they've been filming you for weeks 'cos your bins a bit full? Thought not.

  36. Jon George
    Thumb Up

    GPS Tracking Police is not new

    There is a South African Telematics company that tracks police vehicles by GPS. And then if cellular network providers can track cell phones by triangulating the position of the cell phone from their cellular towers, why don't they just use that?

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  39. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Up

    Add web cams and...'ve got eBill. Charge the public to connect and watch the coppers roam the streets in real time then watch them nab the baddun's.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >the Police don’t monitor CCTV at all. This is done by your local Council

    And the animals looked from pigs to men and men to pigs and couldn't see the difference...

    He's got a point though, it's government, the police would be far too lazy to implement anything resembling law enforcement.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Toilet Time

    Will they be able to see how long they have been on the toilet?

  42. Harry Stottle

    Bloody Good Idea

    I actually submitted the comment below to the Daily Mail on 10 April but they chose not to publish it. Can't imagine why, so I'll share it with you guys:


    Bloody good idea!

    I have no objection whatsoever to the forces of internal repression being tagged and tracked from cradle to grave. Well, OK, from the moment of their employment in a position of authority to the end of such employment.

    As I've described here,

    I also want the police to be routinely equipped with video cameras which record their every action and for their arrests to be illegal unless every important part of the process is captured to an immutable audit trail.

    Then and only then can we begin to trust them like we naively used to do in the early fifties, when Dixon of Dock Green was the public image of the police and the bent cop was a nightmare to frighten small kids with.

    Now, the kind of tagging that the Big Brother state wishes to impose is, of course, an extreme potential invasion of their privacy and anonymity and it is tempting to let the buggers suffer. It might make them a little less keen to impose that kind of nonsense on the rest of us.

    On the other hand, that approach might backfire. Once they are duly tagged and tracked, they might start arguing that what is sauce for their gander should be perfectly acceptable for us geese, so I'm inclined to remind them that they can have the best of both worlds, if they want it. They can maintain full tracking and accountability while actually improving their privacy.

    If they want to know how they can square that circle, send them along to have a look at

  43. Alf Hooker

    Here we go again, blame the old bill for .....well everything

    Re; Bloody good idea by Harry Stottle

    Harry, many police forces , and yes there are 42 others outside of London, have utilised the tracking capability in radios for a couple of years now.

    As for routinely equipping officers with cameras, this may be a good idea but it would require a change in law (human rights and privacy) for officers to be able to film continually when on duty.

    Many people would bleat that it infinges on their right to privacy and they would be correct, would you want to be filmed without your knowledge when going about your normal days business? I think not.

    Many people find the police a quick and easy target without thinking what they are saying or writing, think about the authority, on a national level, that would be required for this and the many acts of law that would need to be changed, altered or removed forever.It really is not a viable option.

    I can see why the daily mail did not print your article, it is not very original and is written by someone with a blinkered view of todays society and someone who has absolutley no idea about modern policing.

    But if it keeps you happy...............!

  44. Anonymous Coward


    We can track all the police involved in the investigation of BT over the Phorm scandal then? Oh, that's right, it's not there job to investigate crime... That's Governments job.. Can we track them by GPS too then?

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