Body Worn Video Steering Group

FAQ’s: Australia’s Northern Territory BWV Trial

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The Northern Territory Police Force is committed to exploring new capabilities to enhance frontline efficiency, and commenced a trial of Body Worn Video in January 2015 expected to complete 31st March 2015. As a result we have a look at the outline for the trial, which could lead to further regions adopting the technology.

Northern Territory Australia Body Worn Video Camera Project Trial Reveal Media

Which officers are using Body Worn Video (BWV)?

40 cameras have been allocated between police officers across the Territory including:

  • Alice Springs
  • City Safe
  • Darwin Traffic Operations
  • Drug and Organised Crime Squad
  • Metropolitan Patrol Group

The reason only these teams are being issued with the cameras at the moment is because we would like to assess how productivity and performance is affected by a range of teams in a range of areas.

Why use BWV at all?

BWV provides an additional option for officers to gather evidence at incidents.

BWV cameras have already been used in other Australian and international police forces to good effect. The cameras can capture evidence of criminal behaviour and can help to ‘set the scene’ for the court at a later date.

By capturing this evidence, officers can spend less time writing statements and completing paperwork at the station. This allows them to spend more time patrolling and responding to incidents in the community.

The use of BWV in other countries has been shown to moderate the behaviour of people present at incidents, resulting in less use of force by officers and reduced complaints against police. It is hoped this will help to ensure public confidence in police actions.

Evidence from other forces has shown that, where BWV is key evidence, guilty pleas at the first opportunity at court rise significantly—this means reduced burdens across the criminal justice system, not just in policing.

When will officers be using the BWV? Will it always be on?

No—BWV will be used in any circumstance where it may assist in providing a record of evidence in respect of the investigation of any offence or suspected offence.

BWV will be switched on prior to, and during any encounter where a member utilises a police power, unless impracticable.

When responding to an incident with customer contact, in line with the above, officers will commence recording at the earliest possible opportunity in order to maximise the opportunities to capture evidence.

Officers will, when practicable, tell those present when they are recording and when they are about to switch off the camera. They will usually only switch the camera off when the incident has concluded or where there is no further evidential value to be had in continued recording.

To have the cameras ‘always on’ may result in private or confidential interactions with the public being recorded and also may represent a significant intrusion into the privacy of those who might be caught on camera.

As well as this, continual recording will result in massive amounts of data being retained and stored by the police, which would result in increased logistical problems in back office functions.

What is the trial going to measure? How long will it last?

The trial is expected to last for three months, up to 31 March 2015.

The trial will be used to assist us in refining our policy in relation to BWV, developing appropriate training, identifying our Information Technology requirements, evidence collection, storage and presentation, establishing an information access request pathway and assessing camera performance and utility in the varied climatological regions of the Northern Territory.

How does the BWV camera work?

The BWV camera is a video and audio recording device. The device is mounted on the uniform shirt of the officer.

The camera records footage onto an internal and secure hard drive. Footage recorded can then be uploaded to Northern Territory Police Force servers for use as evidence at court or other proceedings.

The camera does not live stream footage.

What about rights to privacy?

It is understandable that some people may be concerned about officers recording their interactions with the public at incidents. They may be worried that footage concerning them may be held on police data servers.

This is a key reason why officers will not indiscriminately record all interactions and activity. This is to ensure that any intrusion into private lives is kept to the minimum level necessary.

All footage recorded on BWV is subject to legal safeguards and guidance set by the Information Act and Information Privacy Principles.

Footage that is not likely to be of evidential value will be removed from the system within a short time—the current guidance is within 110 days.

Footage that is retained is subject to regular review and, if no longer required or likely to be required as evidence, will be disposed of.

How can I access footage?

BWV footage is classified as ‘information’ as defined under the Information Act. As such the collection, management and release of footage to the public and external stakeholders is governed by the Information Act and associated Information Privacy Principles (IPP).

People who have been recorded have the right to see footage of them that has been retained by the Northern Territory Police Force. An application fee of $115.00 will apply.

If the footage is to be used as evidence then a copy may be provided to you or your legal representative as part of the Prosecution brief.

You cannot access footage of other people.

Please note that most footage is only held for 110 days before being destroyed.

(Via: Northern Territory Police Website)

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