Body Worn Video Steering Group
It is estimated by the end of 2016 over 30,000 body cameras will be in use across the United Kingdom, and by next year 1 in 5 police officers will record each interaction with the public marking the next frontier of policing and creating a promise to cut crime on our streets by 10%.
London’s Metropolitan Police are currently trialling one of the largest deployment of body cameras in the UK, 1,000 body-worn video cameras.
For these officers by default their cameras are switched off most of the time, partly due to current battery and video storage limitations. They sit idle until an arrest or stop-and-search, when officers hit a button to turn them on.
Everything that happens next can be seen by police, lawyers and the public (via a Freedom of Information Act request) in glorious HD.
An eye in the sky, and everywhere else
By the end of 2016 over 30,000 such cameras will be worn by police up and down the country, according to Inspector Stephen Goodier, making the UK a world leader in this new field.
Inspector Goodier is the lead officer for the Hampshire Constabulary’s body camera project, which has rolled out the cameras to all of its officers. He’s also staff officer to chief constable Andy Marsh, the national policing lead responsible for cameras across the UK.
“We’re now seeing nearly every police force in the UK with adoption of BWV to some degree,” Inspector Goodier told The Memo. “In Hampshire we’re at full adoption, Durham are a large user as are Thames Valley.”
Just last week Home Secretary Theresa May indicated as part of her ongoing reforms to policing she’d be pushing for the wider adoption of cameras by police.
The stats don’t lie
But what is the actual impact of these cameras on crime?
Early studies are hugely promising. Cameras appear to act as a strong deterrent against crime in the communities they are used in.
Police told researchers: “people tended to ‘calm down’ and respond quicker to police requests when they knew they were being filmed.”
While that might sound ominous, think how cameras could have been transformational during scandals like Andrew Mitchell’s ‘Plebgate’ or the police shooting of Mark Duggan.
Both incidents would have been resolved in no time.
Let alone the positive impact cameras could have by reducing overall crime on our streets.
“We’re seeing cameras, the adoption of smartphones and all the benefits mobile internet brings for officers,” says Inspector Goodier.
“There’s a lot of dots that we want to join up, but this technology is going to transform policing.”
(Written by Oliver Smith, winner of the Gold Award at MHP’s 30 To Watch 2015, he previously covered technology, media and telecoms at City A.M. newspaper. He can be found tweeting @OliverSmithEU, Senior Reporter at The Memo)