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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 October 2006, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
Police play down spy planes idea
Soldier with surveillance drone
Drones like those used in Afghanistan could be used
Police have played down reports that spy planes could be flown high above the streets of Merseyside as a way to fight anti-social behaviour.

Merseyside Police's new anti-social behaviour (ASB) task force is exploring a number of technology-driven ideas.

But while the use of surveillance drones is among them, they would be a "long way off", police said.

The squad's aim is to use any criminal or civil law available to help curb anti-social behaviour.

A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: "The idea of the drone is a long way off, but it is about exploring all technological possibilities to support our war on crime and anti-social behaviour.

I wouldn't say Merseyside is any better or worse than any other urban area
Chris Case, Merseyside Fire Service

"What we have got here and now is a new task force using all legislation available to it, to stop the misery of anti-social behaviour, which is something that affects communities up and down the country."

The force said its ASB taskforce, launched last week, was the first of its kind in the UK.

The 137-strong squad features officers from all policing disciplines together with fire officers and lawyers.

Powers include seizing uninsured cars, evicting criminal families and issuing Asbos (Anti-social behaviour orders).

It plans to utilise the latest law enforcement technology, including automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), CCTV "head-cams" and metal-detecting gloves.

'Alternative approach'

There will also be low-level surveillance and other methods of intelligence-gathering.

Senior officers have described the new initiative as an "Al Capone" approach to so-called yob behaviour.

Chris Case, group manager of Merseyside Fire Service, said drones were just one of the ideas being considered.

"It is just one thing we are looking at. It has been used to great effect in the US," he said.

"This 'Al Capone' approach is driving it. We will have many, many legal means to tackle this problem. We have a host of powers. It is a new alternative approach, where nothing is being ruled out.

"Anti-social behaviour is a problem all over the UK. I wouldn't say Merseyside is any better or worse than any other urban area."

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