Body Worn Video Steering Group

Body Worn Video ‘A Watchful Eye on CCTV’

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Britain’s surveillance commissioner, Tony Porter has issued causes for concern with the UK in relation to the broad range of surveillance in use. After the recent terrorist acts by radicals in France, Britain’s security alert rating has risen. Porter’s concerns stem from issues surrounding transparency, and urges public bodies to be open about the use of cameras in society. Although not anti-surveillance, he does want the public to understand the extent to which surveillance exists.

Tony Porter, the surveillance commissioner

On the other hand security technology company Synectics found that 86% of all people surveyed supported CCTV, saying it was crucial in tackling crime. 10 % were unsure with the remaining 4% against. Changing the “psyche of the community” by increased use of CCTV is understandably a primary concern of Porter’s, and small proportion of the public community.

Emma Carr, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch (BBW) says although CCTV and other forms of technology have a place in fighting crime, it should not be relied upon too heavily.

“Surveillance is an important tool in modern policing, but it is not a substitute for policing itself. In too many cities across the country every corner has a camera but only a few ever see a police officer”

Body worn video is the most successful technology to have been introduced to the police in the past decade, bridging the gap between police forces and their communities. Unlike traditional CCTV, where hundreds of fixed cameras are operated by a small team in communication with the police, body worn video cameras capture video perspective of an officer, door staff, parking wardens and more. Sometimes providing vital evidence if a fixed camera’s view is obscured.

Already, the UK is recognised has having the highest surveillance statistics in the world. To some this is a potential threat to the public’s right to watch the police, Carr says

“There have been too many instances in the past where officers have prevented members of the public from filming incidents involving the police, citing nonsense claims that it is illegal for them to do so. If the police want to gain public support for use of this technology, then the right to film must work both ways.”

Increasingly, as shown most recently in Hampshire, body worn video cameras provide the solution to tackling crime on the front line. Also acting as a means to ensure transparency between the public and police. Discussion of the implications technology is paramount to ensuring the success of body worn video and forms part of the answer to concerns surrounding privacy, whilst policy continues to be improved to maximise the potential of body worn video.

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