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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 part of the Airwave radio system which officers already carry - there won't be any extra boxes to carry."

The Met's 31,000 officers are already tracked by Airwave sets in their vehicles. So, presumably, satellite tracking of coppers has been on the drawing board for some time.

Although papers claim this will include Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, who needs tracking, it seems unlikely that he carries his own radio at all times - the Met were unable to elaborate on security grounds.

The system also means that officers from neighbouring boroughs will be dispatched to incidents if they are closer - currently officers are only dispatched within boroughs.

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.

We called them to get more detail, but they're in the middle of moving and apparently no-one could be found to talk to us.

The Met said in a statement: "Officers' positions will only be able to be located when they are on duty and wearing their police radio. 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."

A spokeswoman told the Reg that in a force of several thousand a mixed reaction from some officers was inevitable.

The system will be supplied by Telent and Frequentis AG. It will eventually include a map with different coloured dots representing different types of units, but this is still in development.

Telent is the remnant of GEC Marconi which wasn't bought by Ericsson. ®

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