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Senior Correspondent, IFSEC Global

December 1, 2015


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UK Police to Capture Crime-Scene Interrogations With Body-Worn Cameras for “Cheaper Justice”

police bodyworn camerasUK police forces are considering interrogating suspects at crime scenes instead of at the police station, it has been revealed.

Andy Marsh, national policing lead for body-worn video (BWV), said the proposal could lead to “swifter, fairer and, more importantly, cheaper justice.”

Hampshire Police, for which Marsh is Chief Constable, has reached an agreement in principle with the Home Office to run a series of pilot tests to ascertain the technology’s effectiveness at locations other than police stations. Initially the trial will be limited to minor crimes such as shoplifting or breaching an antisocial behaviour order.

The Metropolitan Police, the UK’s biggest police force, is planning to equip 20,000 of its officers with cameras, which cost about £500 each, after a trial found they slashed allegations against the force by 33%. The trial – the largest of its kind in the world -followed the deployment of body cameras in 10 London boroughs over an 11-month period.

Taser, whose suspect-disabling weapon of the same name is the non-lethal weapon of choice for police forces worldwide, has won a three-year contract to provide 22,000 cameras by next spring.

Body-worn video in numbers

  • Deployment of the cameras in London slashed complaints against the police by 33%
  • In a similar trial in Rialto, California public complaints against officers plunged 88%, while officers’ use of force fell by 60%
  • 92% of the general public think BWVs will make the police more accountable for their actions (Public Attitude Survey, The Met Police)
  • Devices have a 30-second video-only pre-buffer, so when an officer presses the record button, the camera captures the previous 30 seconds of visual information.
  • Data is deleted after 31 days, unless marked as evidence

However, the police watchdog, the IPCC, has urged a rethink on how the cameras are worn. Worn on the shoulder of armed officers the cameras produce footage that is “unfit for purpose,” the watchdog has warned.

The comments appear in a report commissioned by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the College of Policing, which also noted dissatisfaction among police officers with “the camera positioning on their vest, which was particularly awkward when driving”. Other gripes included the bulkiness of the equipment and poor battery life.

The Met said the cameras “are capable of a variety of mounting options and these are being tested as part of this pilot.”

The report also noted that the wearing of cameras reduced slightly the number of arrests, although there was no impact on the number of stop and searches undertaken. “There was no evidence that BWVs changed the way police officers dealt with victims or suspects,” it said.

Many also believe the cameras could be useful in incidents where physical evidence is difficult to collect, such as domestic violence.

Last year IFSEC Global canvassed the opinions of security professionals from across the supply chain on how the industry might help the police comply with the Data Protection Act, build public trust and prevent criminals from turning BWV technology to their advantage.


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January 26, 2016 4:56 pm

. . . there is an old saying that states , because we have 2 eyes , 2 ears ; but , only one mouth , we ( humans ) should first look & listen before we open our mouths . So called ` body worn video ( . . & Audio ) – BWV & A ` should reflect this concept ; thus , spectacle based technology ( such as ` google glass ` ) is the ideal model upon which to mount a ` BWV & A ` ; alas , the current offerings have a single lens & a monophonic… Read more »