Body Worn Video Steering Group
A story published by the Clydebank Post newspaper gives an interesting insight into arguments for and against body worn video, by exposing the West Dunbartonshire division of Police Scotland’s internal decision making process.
Elected members backed a proposal to purchase body worn video equipment with £12,000 of funds previously allocated for police bikes.
Not all members were comfortable with the proposal. Councillors George Black and Jim Bollan, shared concerns that the footage taken from the cameras could breach the public’s civil liberties.
Cllr Black said: “If you watch cable TV the footage taken from these cameras does not always serve the ends of justice but is used to entertain the masses.”
“The footage that finds its way onto TV is not always appropriate and I would much prefer to see the money used for other measures such as foot patrols and ensuring a greater police presence.”
Support for the use of body worn video cameras came from Cllrs Patrick McGlinchey, William Hendrie and Jonathan McColl. McGlinchey pointed out the cameras could equally ensure that officers were following procedure when dealing with members of the public, while Hendrie and McColl argued the cameras would increase safety for officers on the streets and provide another resource in the fight against crime.
Cllr McColl said: “I have no problem with it at all. I think it’s a good thing because it will make life safer for the police and our own council officers who will be using the equipment. I am also pleased to see the money being used in a positive way.”
Cllr Hendrie added: “I am comfortable with the use of these cameras and I don’t agree it is a breach of civil liberties.
“I think they could help the police as well as members of the public who may have a complaint.
“It will help prosecutions and hopefully make people think twice before they act.”
Police Scotland area commander Brian Auld welcomed the decision: “The cameras proposed are overt and offer video and audio footage, their presence and usage will deter anti-social behaviour and support the prosecution of offenders, leading to improved community safety.
“The cameras are supported by software which will allow for any evidence captured to be presented to the court, allowing for emotions and the context of an individual’s behaviour and actions to be captured and interpreted by the court.”