A further £4m invested in BWV

Eight forces – Bedfordshire Police, Nottinghamshire Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Hampshire Constabulary, Durham Constabulary, City of London Police, Merseyside Police and North Wales Police – will share more than £4 million from the Government’s Police Innovation Fund to spend on body-worn video (BWV) camera technology.

Aug 13, 2014
By Paul Jacques

Eight forces – Bedfordshire Police, Nottinghamshire Police, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Hampshire Constabulary, Durham Constabulary, City of London Police, Merseyside Police and North Wales Police – will share more than £4 million from the Government’s Police Innovation Fund to spend on body-worn video (BWV) camera technology.

The Home Office has allocated a total of £50 million in this year’s funding “for projects aimed at transforming policing through innovation and collaboration” and Policing Minister Mike Penning believes it can help the police do their job even better by encouraging them to “embrace new technology and build on ideas coming from the grass roots”.

Bedfordshire Police has been trialing BWV technology since June 2013, and by May this year had completed the rollout of 60 cameras for use by frontline police officers across the county. This latest funding of £795,723 will enable 1,179 more units to be purchased for use in Bedfordshire and across the joint units organised with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, together with supporting infrastructure.

The data captured will be fully networked but secure and auditable, accessed by authorised stakeholders alone in a way that negates the use of potentially uncontrolled media, such as DVDs or memory sticks.

A recent evaluation of the use of BWV in Hampshire suggests it has not only cut crime but also reduced the number of complaints against officers, while in Wolverhampton, reports show that in one month alone the number of complaints was cut by around 83 per cent.

Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Olly Martins said: “The cameras are proving popular with the public and police officers alike – the only people not too keen are the criminals being brought to justice due to the evidence provided. Local officers have told me that they are making a real difference in helping to secure prosecutions and defuse difficult situations.

“We have previously highlighted that in order to meet the Government’s savings targets and enhance the service the public receives we need to invest in new technology and take advantage of the benefits it has to offer, and these BWV cameras actually represent just one strand of our plans.

“Over the coming months we will see several new or upgraded systems introduced which I believe will help to radically change the way local policing is delivered. These will enable officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) to stay out of the station and on the street for much longer, doing their paperwork on the move from new mobile devices helped by improved connectivity for timely submissions.”

The successful bid for BWV funding was put forward jointly by Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire as part of the tri-force partnership programme.

The MPS was awarded a further £573,488 towards its BWV pilot that will eventually see 500 cameras deployed across ten London boroughs – believed to be the largest urban trial of BWV devices in the world.

The South London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon and Lewisham are the latest to begin piloting BWV with cameras being issued to two 999-response teams at each of the four boroughs.

South London Area Commander Simon Letchford said: “There are some fantastic opportunities through technology to help us improve our policing service to Londoners and I see BWV at the forefront of this. Video can show an event in a light that would be almost impossible to get across just by writing it down on paper.

“We’re hoping the use of video will help us to increase confidence in the police and allow us to secure better evidence and strengthen our fight against crime.

“We are already seeing positive results where domestic abuse convictions have been secured thanks to video, when it might not have been possible without that evidence available.

“Our experience in using cameras shows people are more likely to plead guilty if they know there is video evidence, which will also help to speed up the criminal justice system.”

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