Skip to navigationSkip to content

British police are going Robocop

A nun smiles as she chats with a police officer as she waits to see Pope Benedict XVI's pope mobile cross Lambeth Bridge in central London, September 17, 2010. Pope Benedict's security was in the spotlight on Friday after London police arrested five men on suspicion of preparing an attack in Britain. It was not clear if the planned attack was related to the pope's visit or when it was to have taken place, but it prompted police to take another look at security for the pontiff, who was on the second day of his visit to Britain. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS) - RTR2IGPX
Reuters/Andrew Winning
But can Robocop chat up a nun?
By Zach Wener-Fligner
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

British bobbies may soon be ditching caps and tunics for a striking new digital look.

At a presentation earlier this year pitching the Home Office’s new Security Innovation and Demonstration Centre (SIDC), Rob Coleman, director of the Center for Applied Science and Technology, unveiled a new vision for police that includes a robotic exoskeleton, graphene body armor, cameras, and wearables such as Apple Watch-like wrist computers and Google Glass-like digital eyewear. Information on Coleman’s presentation was obtained by a Freedom of Information request by the Guardian.

The exoskeletons in mind are likely related those in development by the US military, which could allow soldiers to carry up to 200 pounds for an extended period of time.

The SIDC was launched officially last week, with a stated goal of ”developing the ‘digital police officer’—enabling officers to use technology such as [body cameras], wearable mobile data and head-up displays to improve information gathering and sharing.” The SIDC has run as a pilot program since May of last year, and so far has worked on the development of body cameras for British police.

The new look may not go down that well with the public. Colin Rogers, a professor of police sciences at the University of South Wales, told the Guardian that some forces “are beginning to look almost paramilitary. That, I think, is not conducive to good community engagement.”

📬 A periodic dispatch from the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in NYC.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.