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Hong Kong plods turn RoboCop with strap-on vid cams

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Hong Kong police have angered human rights groups and taken one small step to full automation by revealing their intent to trial new portable video camera technology attached to their uniforms to film the public.

A police spokeswoman in the Special Administrative Region of China told AFP the body camera scheme would be in use by the end of the year.

"We are not targeting anyone at any public rallies but of course it could be a useful device for the police to deal with those who disturb public law and order at these rallies,” she added.

Unsurprisingly, civil liberties groups are not happy with the announcement, seeing any possible encroachment on the rights of local citizens by the authorities as a sign of China’s growing interference in their affairs.

"People are afraid of being filmed...They don't know how the footage will be used and how it will be preserved," Hong Kong Alliance vice chair Richard Tsoi claimed.

Hong Kong was technically granted a 50 year period starting from its handover by the UK in 1997 when it could enjoy political, economic and legal autonomy from the People’s Republic under a “one country, two systems” rule proposed by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

However, there have been notable incidents recently to make the locals feel a little twitchy when it comes to human rights in the former colony.

One journalist was bundled into a police van after daring to ask a question of Chinese Premier Hu Jintao about the Tiananmen Square massacre during a recent visit and protesters were pepper sprayed by police, as new CEO of the region CY Leung was sworn in.

Leung himself, who was not directly elected by the people, has been tarnished by claims from his opponents that he had previously recommended the use of riot police and tear gas to quell pro-democracy protests in 2003.

Body cameras are becoming an increasingly common sight on the uniforms of police officers, traffic wardens and council workers in the UK too.

Firms such as RevealMedia, Edesix and Pinaccle Response all claim to produce kit for regional UK coppers. ®

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