Today, the Victorian Liberal Nationals have written to Police Minister, Lisa Neville seeking assurances in relation to the use of Victoria Police drones for the monitoring of the community in public and private places.
Drones and remote surveillance can be a useful tool for monitoring large crowds and informing police responses on the ground at public major events and other mass gatherings.
The use of this technology has a clear benefit to Victoria Police and the safety of the community, however, the potentially invasive nature of these drones must be appropriately protected against.
Furthermore, as revealed in recent Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearings, Victoria Police drones are currently indistinguishable from other drones – often leaving members of the public concerned their privacy is being breached when in the community.
The Andrews Labor Government must clarify the circumstances in which drones may be used and what protections are in place to ensure the privacy of Victorians is not unduly impacted.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Police & Community Safety, David Southwick:
“The use of drones by Victoria Police in public spaces plays an important role in ensuring the safety of the community, however individual privacy, particularly on private property, must be appropriately protected.
“As Daniel Andrews has now enacted State of Emergency and State of Disaster Powers without Parliamentary oversight it is important that we do whatever we can to fight this pandemic but that we also don’t see an overreach of powers and see our democratic freedoms compromised.
“With the Victorian Parliament suspended, the Liberal Nationals are seeking urgent clarification about the use of Victoria Police drones during COVID-19 and beyond.”