Body Worn Video Steering Group

Impact of body worn video on criminal justice

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Essex police officers took part in a four month trial with body worn video.
308 officers took part; 70 of which were randomly allocated body worn cameras for use and the rest remained to act as a control group.

The officers were allocated the body worn cameras to see the effects they caused as part of a trial. The trial showed that issuing the officers with body worn video could be effective at increasing the proportions of detections that result in criminal charge.

These officers frequently mentioned the benefits of how the cameras gather evidence. They also felt confident that the incidents they attended would result in convictions now as the cameras gave more detail than a statement could capture. Some felt the cameras would offer them increased accountability and make them more mindful of their behaviour. They explained how the cameras amplified a risk aversion to inaction. They had a feeling that anyone looking at the footage might want them to justify their actions rather than their inactions.

The evidence, interviewed officers reported, was especially useful if it was a recording of the initial account, as it would often capture emotion and any injuries – more accurately reflecting the impact of the incident. An added benefit is that victims often gave a great deal of information about the incident or showed their visible injuries to provide more support later on in a court case. A video provides more evidence than someone’s word.

There was evidence to suggest that the use of cameras made a difference to the type of sanction detection and the camera’s presence increased the probability of an individual being charged.

Click here to see more information on previous trials in Essex’s police department.

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