The now-deleted tweet by the National Police Air Service London (NPAS) said: "Whilst on tasking in central London this morning we spotted a certain energetic funny man... Can you guess who?"
The sneaky snap quickly backfired, with Twitter users branding it 'creepy', and suggesting that publishing the photo is a waste of police time and an abuse of surveillance powers.
One user wrote...
@NPASLondon good job central London is a crime-free idyll. Otherwise this might smack of a terrible waste of time, effort and resources— nathan bevan (@nathbevan) July 15, 2015
@NPASLondon Did you seek the individual's consent? Or is this an abuse of your considerable surveillance powers?— Robin Wilton (@futureidentity) July 15, 2015
@NPASLondon Wow. That's kinda creepy— ☜ pee (@PeterDJMain) July 15, 2015
@NPASLondon talk about invasion of privacy, well out of order— Pete Chenzo (@cabbypetemfc) July 15, 2015ADVERTISEMENT
The Met Police told the Huffington Post: "This tweet does not as far as we know constitute a breach of data protection legislation.
"But due to reaction on Twitter we have deleted it."
Gerard Batten, UKIP's London Euro-MP, said: "The photograph of Michael McIntyre by a Police Helicopter, and it's publishing online is a gross misuse of police power.
"It isn't some private citizen taking a snap of a passing celebrity, this is the Police, abusing their authority.
"The implications for civil liberties raised by this are appalling to consider. This isn't Hollywood, this is real life."
massively innappropriate use of surveillance http://t.co/SUmB8IeePJ— Libertarian Home (@LibertarianHome) July 15, 2015
This is disgraceful. Hope he sues http://t.co/BLFWMLiYt1— Tony Horne (@HorneyMedia) July 15, 2015
Director of Big Brother Watch, an organisation dedicated to exposing the true scale of surveillance in the UK, Emma Carr told Huffington Post UK: "At best, posting this image was a complete waste of time.
"At worst, NPAS seem to have had complete disregard for the surveillance and data protection laws that are there to protect our privacy.
"You have to question the judgement of the individual who decided to post the image. The lack of responsibility and understanding of individual privacy is concerning. But if you spend all day watching people, individual privacy may slip your mind.
"We are told that CCTV is there to keep our streets safe, and we are repeatedly told that it is not intruding on our privacy. This image has proven that is not always the case.
"Hopefully this will provide a lesson for all the other organisations and operators who have the ability to spy on us that the public don’t take kindly on being snooped on.”