Body Worn Video Steering Group
Scotland currently faces challenges in terms of acquiring funding for body cameras as the Chief Constable admits equipping officers with cameras is “some way off”
Sir Stephen House supports national rollout, though acknowledged issues around funding and public acceptance still need to be resolved.
In 2012 body camera were piloted by one of Police Scotland‘s forces in Aberdeen, and since then west Scotland of specialist units also received the technology.
House, who was appearing before the Scottish Police Authority, said the several millions required for a roll-out across the single service is “not obviously available at this moment in time”.
Planning to develop the proposal through the Justice Board, which is made up of those who lead organisations across the criminal justice system, House believes that given the savings expected among other criminal justice organisations as a result of improvements in evidence, other agencies could be asked to help cover the costs associated with any expansion.
“It is part of our long-term strategy going forward in terms of more efficient, more transparent and quicker working, and a more effective criminal justice system – but it’s some way off,” said House.
“We will watch with interest organisations such as the Met who’ve said they are going to be introducing it Met-wide. They’re twice our size but I also notice that the Mayor of London has come forward and said he will fund it. If he would care to fund us as well then that would be good, but that’s unlikely.”
“For that reason I believe the best way of doing this is for us and for yourselves [SPA] to lead the debate on this,” he added.
“We don’t want to be spending millions of pounds on body-worn cameras to find that actually the Scottish public decide, ‘do you know what, we don’t really want this on our police officers’ or significant proportions of the community say, ‘no we don’t want this and we find this oppressive’ when we’ve said it’s part of our policy to do it.”
“We need to develop this with yourselves, with the Scottish Government, and frankly with the support and agreement of the public in Scotland. And if we can do that and find the millions of pounds it will cost then the police service certainly won’t resist it.”
His comments came a day after results of a three-year study on the effectiveness of body worn video were published in Edmonton Police Service, Canada., which supported other research on the subject such as the de-escalating effect, although indicated depending on the mental health of a suspect could impact the situation negatively.