All frontline officers in North Wales to get BWV cameras

North Wales Police will be the first force in Wales to equip all officers on frontline duty, including police community support officers and specialist firearms and rural crime teams, with body-worn video (BWV) cameras.

Feb 22, 2017
By Paul Jacques

North Wales Police will be the first force in Wales to equip all officers on frontline duty, including police community support officers and specialist firearms and rural crime teams, with body-worn video (BWV) cameras.

It has just taken delivery of an additional 301 cameras and 50 docking stations, which are being rolled out across the region.

The force expects the extra kits will result in a 12 per cent increase in the number of successful prosecutions in domestic abuse cases, a surge in the number of guilty pleas generally and a reduction in the number of complaints against officers.

BWV was first introduced in North Wales in 2015, with 120 devices deployed across the force, giving a third of response officers access to cameras.

The rollout of the equipment is being managed by the force chief information officer, Ian Davies, who said: “It [BWV] can make a massive difference in all areas of policing including domestic-related crime and success rates for convictions are going from 70 per cent to 82 per cent. It’s fantastic news for the victims and that’s the important thing.”

Chief Superintendent Sacha Hatchett, head of local policing services at North Wales Police, said the results for BWV nationally “speak for themselves”.

“When police officers are using BWV they are showing what’s happening in reality – the evidence is incontrovertible.”

She said officers were being “really innovative” with the cameras, using them for anti-social behaviour patrols and on the night-time economy – “so you can actually see if there is affray or fighting taking place, what that actually looks like, [and] what that actually means at that time”.

“They’re also being used when officers go to road traffic accidents and when they serve warrants,” she added.

“There is a sound evidence-base for us having BWV, and it’s supporting my officers on the front line who do a very difficult job well, so anything to support them gets my support.”

Chief Supt Hatchett added: “We’re still analysing the data, but we are finding that complaints against officers have gone down, [and] people making vexatious complaints have reduced.”

The equipment has proved particularly beneficial in the aftermath of a domestic violence incident, where evidence of any injuries and damage can be gathered, together with the behaviour and demeanour ?of the aggressor and the victim.

North Wales police and crime commissioner (PCC) Arfon Jones has invested £163,000 in the extra cameras, which he says are “going to help victims of crime, help us arrest more offenders and improve the quality of life of vulnerable people”.

“It’s been shown that the introduction of BWV equipment improves the success rate in domestic violence cases by 12 per cent. That’s massive,” he added.

“I would expect there to be more guilty pleas and that’s a good thing. It avoids survivors of domestic violence having to give evidence in court. It saves money and it’s obviously better for the perpetrator because the earlier they plead guilty, the more reasonable the sentence will be for them.”

North Wales Police PC Matt Jones said BWV was making “a big difference”, explaining: “When we attend various scenes, for example a road accident, our priorities would be casualties and things like that. [Now] we can leave our BWV on while we’re dealing with the casualties.

“The equipment also makes people less likely to want to be abusive, threatening or violent because they know they’re being recorded on camera. It nips problems in the bud.”

North Wales Police Federation secretary Richard Eccles said the introduction of extra cameras by the PCC and the notable reduction in public complaints were very much welcomed.

“Officers are increasingly keen to utilise the cameras to deter assaults and abuse from those who blight our communities in North Wales.

“Hopefully, as we put more evidence before the courts showing exactly how officers are treated by a criminal minority, we will see increased sanctions and increased public confidence.”

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