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Saturday 3 December 2016

Anger over tweeted photo of comic McIntyre taken by police helicopter

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Police have defended a picture tweeted by a helicopter team that showed comedian Michael McIntyre standing in a London street.

The photo, posted on the National Police Air Service's London twitter account (@NPASLondon), was captioned: "Whilst on tasking in central London this morning we spotted a certain energetic funny man ... Can you guess who?"

McIntyre was caught on surveillance camera outside the Global Radio offices in Leicester Square at around 8am yesterday.

The image provoked anger on social media, with some users expressing concern that the tweet was inappropriate.

"You do a great job but this is dodgy. Do you have permission to post pics of these people from a spy cam on Twitter?" tweeted Edward Davie (@EdDavie).

Helicopter surveillance is overseen by the National Police Air Service, with regional bases across Britain.

"We are aware of the tweet and, as far as we are aware, it does not breach any data protection legislation," said ground operations director Supt Richard Watson.

"We feel, however, it was inappropriate and it has since been removed. We will be speaking to the person who posted the tweet."

Each helicopter carries a variety of hand-held digital cameras capable of taking high-resolution images to be used for evidence or to help police in planning and executing operations. They are also capable of streaming live footage to command bases.

Ukip London MEP Gerard Batten condemned the branch for posting the picture.

"The photograph of Michael McIntyre by a police helicopter and its publishing online is a gross misuse of police power," he said. "It isn't some private citizen taking a snap of a passing celebrity, this is the police, abusing their authority."

Rachel Robinson, the policy officer for rights group Liberty, said the NPAS "is getting a reputation for irresponsible tweeting".

concerned

"With public concern around the misuse of state surveillance growing, this latest example suggests a blase attitude to our privacy," she said.

"This doesn't bode well for those of us concerned about police use of new surveillance technology such as drones."

A spokesman for McIntyre said there would be no comment from the star, who was due to perform at the Ipswich Regent last night as a warm-up to his Happy And Glorious UK and Ireland tour. He will play Dublin on November 7.

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