Weather ruins police surveillance balloon

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The Independent Online

The rain in Manchester has brought a premature end to many a cricket match over the years, but now it has claimed a new victim: an £80,000 police surveillance balloon.

Greater Manchester Police had lauded the unmanned blimp as a "brand-new airborne crime-fighting tool", with a camera that could swivel 360 degrees and film targets up to a mile away. It had been expected to save money through reduced fuel bills, and five staff were specially trained to monitor its footage.

But after being used just 18 times since it first took to the air to help monitor crowds at an Oasis concert last year, the balloon has now been scrapped at a cost of £20,000 because the city's infamously inclement weather caused its outer skin to tear continuously.