Body Worn Video Steering Group
Police Oracle reports that “more and more forces are turning to body worn cameras to save officers time and improve the quality of information they collect”.
Earlier this year, the Home Office pledged £1.4 million to help fund body worn camera programs in Gwent, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Durham, Thames Valley and the Met, which brings the total number of forces who are using this technology in the UK to over 20.
The support from the Home Office came after the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan who died in 2011, sparking riots across the country. Senior officers explained that they have turned to body worn camera technology to “avoid years of dispute and counter views”.
Police Oracle made it clear however that the benefits of body worn video lie predominantly in favour with the organisations using it: “For officers – accustomed to spending hours writing statements – the cameras seem to be a real success”.
The technology has already been trialled and established many times over in the UK, with results affirming reduced crime, reduced complaints against the police, an increase in early guilty pleas and an increase in patrol time for officers. Leicestershire Police are one such force who have been using body worn cameras successfully for over 10 years.
Detective Inspector Mark Parish of Leicestershire Police hailed body worn cameras saying thatthey could be used in all policing scenarios to collect high quality evidence. In addition, Police Oracle recorded that the cameras gave police officers extra protection from assault: “People temper their behaviour when they know they are on film”
Detective Inspector Parish said: “The response from officers has been brilliant. There are real advantages to having a screen on the device so the officer can show the suspect what they have captured. In public order scenarios, for example, you can play back the footage in the van and the offender can take the ticket – if that’s what you want to do.”
Chairman of Essex Police Federation, Mark Smith, has testified to quality of evidence from body worn cameras, explaining how solicitors press for early guilty pleas when there is body worn video footage of an event: “The camera shows the incident at the time. You could arrive to a domestic, for example, and you get a lot of information from the footage – the first images of the incident, how that person is acting, victim injuries, and that can be rolled out to other things – public order, motorist behaviour and so on.
“When defendants appear in court they are very polite – they are in a sterile situation. But when you get that evidence onto machines, it is very valuable.”
Police Oracle concluded with detective Inspector Parish suggesting that the cameras are exceptional value for money: “He pointing out that a £500 camera used every shift for three years works out at 15 pence a day”.