Body Worn Video Steering Group
Body worn video not only captures crimes as they happen but the aftermath too. It is helping those receiving domestic abuse by using pre-recorded statements made by the victims at the scene of the crime. In a nationwide first, NSW police will be able to use body-mounted video cameras to record the effects of domestic violence so that the victims don’t have to. They will be able to record any signs of abuse, under legislation.
“Anything that takes the pressure off victims giving evidence in court has to be helpful,” said Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Moo Baulch. Often, the stress and trauma of going to court can stop victims from going. The recordings can help give them the courage to attend knowing that they have evidence from the crime scene.
This also prevents intimidation from the perpetrator before the trial, in an attempt to coerce the victim to change their original version of events. This recording gives the court a clear view of the victim in that moment.
The minister for women, Pru Goward, said the move would aid traumatised, vulnerable victims. Tanya Whitehouse, chair of the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW, also welcomed the move, saying it would empower victims.
A victim must give his or her consent to be filmed and the prosecution will take the victims’ views into account when deciding whether to use the recording in court but also have to consider if the victim has been coerced.
Police Association president Scott Weber said the video kits will make officers’ jobs easier and will be incredibly powerful for a magistrate “to be taken back to the traumatic incident and see the violence, see the room that has been smashed, see the children crying, see the devastation”. He hoped it would lead to the adoption of body worn cameras for all police at all times.
Thanks to the videos captured by body cameras, statements have more strength in court which will lead to an increase in the success rate of domestic violence prosecutions.