A body worn camera (video) is a recording system that is used by law enforcement to record interactions with the public and to cover or support evidence at crime scenes.
UK Police Forces have now spent a total of £22.7 million on nearly 50,000 body cameras around the country.
The Met Police are thought to have taken a global lead back in October 2016 with the introduction of the cameras and have since rolled them out to all 32 London Boroughs.
The aim of body worn cameras is to provide enhanced evidence capture, and to improve the accountability and transparency of police conduct.
More positive outcomes include:
- Speeding up the justice system - criminals are much more likely to plead guilty to crimes that have been caught on camera as the evidence is there to support the claim that they committed it
- Trials are much more straight forward as there’s no need for witnesses to attend court however it’s important to remember that the cameras are not to be used as a replacement to traditional forms of collecting evidence such as written statements and interviews; these are still relevant but the video evidence is simply there to support them
- The camera provides time stamps and shows an accurate sequence of events so that stories cannot be amended as they must align with the evidence that has been recorded
- An accurate overview of the crime scene is recorded so it can be analysed in depth for further information to support a case
- Situations are often resolved quicker - when humans are aware they’re being watched they conform to a higher standard of behaviour which is recognised as being ‘correct’ so potential conflicts are deescalated
There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence since the introduction of the cameras to suggest that they’ve had a positive impact on police forces and the justice system, and some extraordinary results have been produced:
- 92% of officers said that they were in favour of wearing them
- 68% said that they feel safer on the job when wearing them
- 50% reduction in use of physical force
- 72% thought that wearing them would give the public more confidence in them
- 90% reduction in complaints against officers
- 90% increase in early guilty pleas