Britain should be more concerned with Chinese-made street CCTV cameras than spy balloons 60,000ft above the ground, a watchdog has warned.
UK police forces are being “sniped” by Chinese cameras, drones and other surveillance equipment, new findings from the Biometrics and Surveillance Cameras Commissioner (OBSCC) say.
The regulator’s investigation also showed that agencies using the devices were “generally aware of safety and ethical concerns with the companies that supply their kits”.
Concerns have grown in recent days Chinese Spy Balloon Threat Britain has been prompted to review its security measures after the United States shot down four objects flying in its airspace this month.
Washington declared one of the planes to be Chinese spyware.
There are now safety concerns about police use of Chinese-made drones.
In June last year, all police forces in England and Wales, as well as the British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Police, the Ministry of Defense and the National Crime Agency (NCA), were asked about their use and management of CCTV and other surveillance cameras.
Some respondents claimed safety or ethical concerns about equipment used in their camera systems, the regulator said.
Fraser Sampson of the OBSCC said: “It is clear from a detailed analysis of the findings that police stations in the UK have been captured by Chinese surveillance cameras.
“It is also clear that troops deploying this equipment are generally aware of security and ethical concerns with the companies that supply their equipment.”
He added: “There’s been a lot in the news in the last few days about how we should be concerned about a Chinese spy balloon at 60,000 feet.
“I don’t understand why we at least don’t care about Chinese cameras six feet above our heads in the streets and elsewhere…”
Mr Sampson said consideration should be given to whether it was appropriate for institutions to use equipment made by companies with “serious unresolved issues”.
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The OBSCC said it was “disappointing” that 39 of the 47 agencies and forces surveyed responded.
Some 18 said their external camera systems used equipment that had safety or ethical concerns, while at least 24 said the same when asked about internal camera systems.
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said: “In line with government directives, government departments have been directed to stop deploying such equipment around sensitive locations and UK police will undertake the necessary reviews to ensure national security standards are met.
“Model contract terms and conditions are widely used throughout policing and include specific provisions for equality, diversity and human rights. These terms are imposed on contract suppliers and will be used to enforce any breaches.”
The Telegraph also reported that more than two-thirds of the drones used by British police were made by a Chinese company blacklisted in the US.
A Home Office source told the paper on Tuesday that Home Secretary Suella Braverman had “concerns” about the use of Chinese technology in the UK and wanted the police to ensure all their data was “secure and not vulnerable to any foreign interference.” .