Additional Home Office funding puts more body-worn cameras on the front line

The Home Secretary last week approved £1.4 million funding to increase the use of body-worn video (BWV) cameras by police officers.

Jan 22, 2014
By Paul Jacques

The Home Secretary last week approved £1.4 million funding to increase the use of body-worn video (BWV) cameras by police officers.

The money will come from the £50 million Police Innovation Fund.

The money will be split between six forces that already use BWV to varying degrees – the Metropolitan Police Service, Hampshire Constabulary, Leicestershire Police, Durham Constabulary, Thames Valley Police and Gwent Police.

As well as testing the BWV equipment that uploads, secures and distributes camera footage taken by officers, the Home Office is hoping the extended trials will better assess public reaction to the concept of camera-equipped police officers.

Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Andy Marsh said this commitment by the Government was recognition of the massive benefit BWV offers in terms of building trust with the public and having an accurate and verifiable digital record of the evidence.

Mr Marsh, who was recently appointed national policing lead in England and Wales for BWV for the College of Policing and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said:

“It is my intention, both as chief constable for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and in my new national role, to work with those other forces who are leading the way to make BWV something that the public continues to support and [which] is available to every uniformed police officer.”

He added:

“We have more than 450 cameras being used across Hampshire at the moment, including 180 that are personally issued to officers and police and community support officers (PCSOs) on the Isle of Wight as part of a specific one-year project until the summer of 2014.”

“This funding keeps Hampshire and the Isle of Wight at the cutting-edge of BWV technology – not just in Britain, but anywhere in the world.”

Hampshire Constabulary, which was awarded almost £400,000 to fund further BWV cameras, is working with independent researchers from University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies to evaluate the personal-issue project on the Isle of Wight.

The police and crime commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said he was confident that the benefit of using BWV cameras and the associated technology would be realised both in terms of criminal justice savings and police officer integrity and safety.

“Body-worn camera evidence is impactful and irrefutable and the principles of securing and preserving evidence are enhanced by them. They will strengthen cases going to the criminal courts,” he said.

“Scientific research also supports the evidence that body-worn cameras can assist in de-escalating an incident when the offenders are made aware of its presence. In some cases, they could also provide evidence that will help those who feel aggrieved over the way they have been treated by the police and also to help protect police officers themselves from wrongful accusations.”

Gwent Police, which was awarded £155,000, trialled a small number of cameras last month as part of the ‘Townsafe’ initiative for night-time economy crime in Caerphilly.

This trial was funded by the Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership. The additional funding will enable the force to eventually roll out around 360 cameras across Gwent for use by frontline officers.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Lorraine Bottomley, who heads up operational policing, commented: “The technology offers benefits in terms of transparency, building trust with the public as well as allowing officers to have an accurate and verifiable digital record of incidents.

“Evidence from other force areas which have used this technology indicates that it can increase the number of early guilty pleas and successful prosecutions in relation to incidents investigated by the police.”

“This will provide more positive outcomes for victims of crime as well as generating considerable cost-savings for the taxpayer in way of less protracted court hearings. Other forces have also seen a decline in the number of vexatious or spurious complaints against officers which can and

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