Posted on 29/03/14, filed under Spy Equipment | No Comments
My son recently went to experience Spy Games in Milton Keynes, after receiving it as a Christmas present. He is 10 years old and has special needs, so I was intrigued to see how they cope with a range of abilities and whether it was indeed worth the £35 price tag.
The company promise to offer “spy themed team building and team events for Corporate, Stag Parties, Kids Activites and Schools throughout the UK and International. Based in Milton Keynes UK, Spy Games offers corporate clients, individuals and kids the opportunity to experience the exciting world of espionage and secret agents. Established over 12 years ago by ex-SAS personnel, Spy Games has built a worldwide reputation for offering team building events, corporate team building and spy themed team building to the highest quality from experienced experts in a safe, controlled and fun environment. Spy Games have created a fantastic variety of team building games for children and spy training for kids to enjoy. We run half day Spy Camps at our Spy HQ based in Milton Keynes as well as children’s parties and full day team building Spy Days for schools and higher education.”
Here’s what we thought…
We opted for the half-day kid’s spy experience. The activities and challenges ranged from Sniper Shooting and Pulse Ranger Laser Combat to Code Breaking and dodging live lasers in the laser room challenge. The team promised that there was something for everyone – from physical and mental tasks to observation and logistical challenges. All of the instructors are highly experienced in working with young ‘agents’ as they were called, and work to create a fun experience in a safe and controlled environment.
My little Spy Camp agent took part in a variety of secret agent activities. It started off with a briefing about different types of surveillance equipment – some of which the audience loved, but others were clearly aimed at the gaggle of parents at the back of the room, with a few references which went way above the youngsters’ heads. A few older teens were looking a bit bored towards the end as the briefing went on for about 25minutes. After that, the group were given instructions to diffuse a ‘bomb’. This was fun challenge which involved code breaking, but my son was left at the back of the group crowding around the bomb as the bigger kids pushed to the front. There was a fair bit of intervention by other parents who then took over a bit and ended up working out the codes for the kids…not sure that was the idea but, to be fair, it needed more than one instructor for the 15 of so kids there to see that they needed more guidance and to make sure nobody was being left out.
The laser room was a big hit, as was all of the activities which involved weapons, target practice and range shooting. Other highlights include the location and the kids being able to run riot around the huge field and hay bales, doing exactly what boys should be doing on a Saturday afternoon – getting muddy and letting off a bit of steam. Not that the girls were missing out either – they were giving as good as they got too! The quick-draw pistol shootout guy was everything a 10-year old boy wants to be when he grows up – a very cool role model with some good jokes to get the kids laughing and some participation thrown in for the adults watching too.
A couple of things to improve upon: the guy giving the lecture about the spy gadgets at the start needs to be a bit more kid-friendly and focus less on entertaining the grownups, more staff to make sure the smaller ones aren’t getting left out, lighter weapons in the range as they were too big and heavy for the younger children, better catering facilities (penned on the website as ‘catering available’ but does not mention it is a burger van.
All in all, worth the money but better if you can get a group of kids together so they at least know another person there.
Posted on 29/03/14, filed under News | No Comments
Mystery shoppers are usually sourced by companies looking for an average Joe to apply for the role, or alternatively, in-house watch dogs including Trading Standards will use their own trained staff to acquire undercover evidence of business practices and prove / disprove businesses are working within the law. Such visits may either be random or a planned visit depending on an anonymous tip-off or regular complaints by members of the public.
There are any number of reasons for providing a mystery shopping service for example: acting as a normal shopper to evaluate the quality of employee customer service and to check proper company procedures are abided to. It could be the case that a local off-license is selling alcohol, knives, cigarettes or fireworks to underage persons. The end result of a mystery shopper is to gather sufficient covert video footage to back-up their findings which may need to be presented in a Court of Law. Such spy equipment used in these types of operations must be professional, discreet, and reliable to avoid compromising any given situation.
Between 1999 – 2005 the technology for this type of equipment was groundbreaking – a briefcase with a hole cut through the end and a chunky camcorder looking through, or perhaps an awkward looking fill-fax Its hard to look back on those days without cringing how video footage was obtained without being spotted. The technology offered today however, is fantastic, modern and completely disguised. And spy technology is leaping bounds faster than ever!
One thing is for sure. Here at Online Spy Shop we keep abreast of the very latest equipment and currently have a select range of body-worn surveillance equipment ideal for the mystery shopper and private investigator to confidently use in order to gather the undercover evidence required. You can assured of our attention to detail in the quality of our hidden camera products utilising high-definition recording, clear audio, time and date stamping and password protected access.
HD Button Camera Recorder
This is a very high-end package which includes a true 1080P HD camera with a small selection of ‘screw-on’ black coloured buttons, and a miniature HD digital video recorder with 2.5″ TFT colour display. The button camera is worn so the camera is pointing the direction you are facing and recording is captured to an Micro SD card held within the DVR. This is extremely easy-to-use and yet provides the same quality of more expensive systems. We have tried and tested many button camera packages, however, this rather unknown kit is without doubt one of the finest available and at a super price.
Hidden Bag Camera
This camera system oozes quality and is one of our favourites. Possibly one the most advanced mystery shopper recording packages on the market – the bag is of modern design and made of a tough black material, and its neutral appearance is suitable for either a male / female. The bag can even be used to carry your everyday accessories and even when opened and examined just looks completely normal inside. This is a professional law enforcement grade system which can be purchased with a selection of two (2) compatible digital video recorders. The advantage of using this type of equipment allows you to place the bag in any direction without attracting any attention whatsoever.
Hidden Spectacles Camera
These are without doubt the most discreet pair of body-worn spectacles and ideal for use by either a male / female no matter what face shape you have. Gone are the days of the bulky glasses that made you look like Joe90, these are exceptionally slim and completely natural looking. One of the advantages of these specs is that the hidden camera is fitted within the concave design on the frame which reduces visibility of detection. This is another law-enforecement grade package which can be purchased with the optional digital video recorders to provide an outstanding recording kit.
As with all our covert mystery shopping equipment, all products can be used and worn with complete peace of mind. Our strict quality control ensures we carry stock of only the very best equipment.
Please also view our other range of covert video recording equipment, place your order online for next working day delivery, or call us for a pre-arranged demonstration at our bricks and mortar premises.
Posted on 27/03/14, filed under News | No Comments
The Metropolitan Police is in the hot seat, yet again, over the Stephen Lawrence Murder. Already, the level of controversy, scandals and polarising debates that have emerged because of police response to this murder has surpassed what most could consider damage control. Public reaction towards Scotland Yard falls miles short of anything remotely resembling a sympathetic response.
In light of the force’s spying tactics, the victim’s brother is demanding a role in the investigation. Meanwhile, the mother of the victim, Baroness Lawrence, is impressing upon Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to offer his full and undivided attention, along with co-operation with the judicial inquiry as ordered by the Home Secretary. An order that has come down as a consequence of the aftermath of – what the media is describing as purely ‘devastating’ — review of the matter carried out by Mark Ellison.
The 1993 racism-motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence in South London has sparked plenty of outrage and controversy over the years, but the recent revelations from Barrister Mark Ellison’s review of the case has shed a whole new light on the matter, reigniting both public interest and the subsequent outrage. With the enquiry revealing all manner of troubling findings, from police force nepotism to self-furthering agendas, spy tactics, surveillance, all culminating in just two of the six assailants being brought to justice over a two-decade period, Metropolitan Police have been put on a notice of sorts.
This event — along with other recent controversies regarding spy and undercover plots by the police — has provoked some stern public questioning of the force’s professional integrity. It is not that people have anything directly against spying or surveillance, but the lack of results or resolve to acquire results — such as in this case — brings the entire law enforcement profession in this country into question. So polarising is this subject that it is even attracting politically motivated criticism from a wider circle about Britain’s form as a nanny state.
At the end of the day, spying is just an act supported by skill and a surveillance strategy that also comes with a rather hefty price tag in terms of equipment, labor and time. It does not — on its own — imply an inherent negative or positive context or connotation; that comes with the intentions of the individuals or parties engaged in such a surveillance strategy or tactic. Spying and discrete surveillance can be used for both malicious exploitation, or for the noble pursuit of security and foiling potential threats to public interest and safety. It’s a lot like an investment, actual resources are pooled into supporting a surveillance state, and this naturally begs the question about what kind of returns the public receive for such an investment.
Therefore, whenever a group of individuals or a public service body are taken to task about engaging in such tactics, one must weigh out the intentions behind the tactic, the amount of resources invested in carrying out the tactic, and the eventual consequence of such a tactic. In the case of The Met and the controversy surrounding the Stephen Lawrence case — from the spying and arguably disingenuous undercover operation, to the sheer amount of years with little results — one is obliged to put the police force on the spot for such poor showing. Developments on this case also feed directly into the public opinion about the surveillance state, which is far from positive or outright glowing, but as stated earlier, this can’t simply be because Britain is as paranoid about individual liberty being curtailed in favour of quality security, as say, the Americans. In the case of the British public, it is less about ideology and more about pragmatism; less about ideals of being surveillance free and more about the lack of results despite increasing surveillance.
At present, fewer and fewer people have faith in the legal institutions and law enforcement that carry out these tactics. With this drop in public confidence, there’s almost an equally complimentary rise in people who believe that the increasingly larger scale of state surveillance in Britain is failing to produce a proportionate level of security, accountability and swift sense of justice when balanced out against the level of privacy violations the public must face in return.
Ultimately, this is a matter of pragmatism driven by emotional outrage. When an exorbitant nanny state is spending all this money, time and resource — during economic austere times — towards increasing the reach of the surveillance state at the cost of private life, people will naturally expect swift and non-controversial results. As per the Stephen Lawrence case, this ideal outcome is not being reflected, and goes on to support the declining public confidence in the judicial and law enforcement system. Currently, a good number of the public — regardless of politics — see state sponsored spying and surveillance as simply a one-way street that violates their private rights while doing very little to keep them safe; thus, justifying their growing disdain for an excessive nanny state that they consider unaccountable and worthy of only the most absolute form of incredulity.