BWV at heart of ‘fully modernised force’

West Mercia Police has begun the rollout of body-worn video (BWV) cameras to all frontline officers as part of its shift to a “modern, reformed force”.

Apr 12, 2017
By Paul Jacques

West Mercia Police has begun the rollout of body-worn video (BWV) cameras to all frontline officers as part of its shift to a “modern, reformed force”.

One million pounds is being invested in the technology through the Warwickshire and West Mercia strategic policing alliance.

Forty-six officers in Malvern are among the first to be issued with the cameras. The plan is for firearms and Taser-trained officers to be equipped first, followed by patrol officers, with all frontline operational officers – including those in safer neighbourhood teams – being equipped with BWV before the end of the year.

West Mercia Police Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: “Video captures events in a way that cannot be represented in written statements – footage helps to show the real impact a crime can have on victims. It provides us with high-quality evidence to share with colleagues and our partners to give us the best chance to secure a conviction in court.”

West Mercia Police Federation chair Russ Yeomans said BWV was “a necessary piece of equipment” adding: “It’s been long overdue and we’re glad to see that, finally, technology within the police service in West Mercia is being updated and upgraded to present levels elsewhere.

“Officers are subject to a number of complaints that are often quite frivolous – the fact that the incident will be recorded by the officer would allow a quick investigation to take place. That reduces the amount of time that’s being wasted investigating these complaints and allow officers to get on with their work in a better, more timely fashion.”

Mr Yeomans said, generally speaking, research shows that when people know they are being recorded “their behaviour towards police officers change”.

He hopes that in time “this will result in a reduction in assaults on police officers, and linking into that the reduction of days sick that officers face as a result of being assaulted”.

“What this should also do is reduce the amount of not guilty pleas and increase the amount of early guilty pleas when evidence has been clearly captured on video. It should reduce officers’ time being wasted going to court unnecessarily,” added Mr Yeomans.

West Mercia police and crime commissioner John Campion says the investment is part of his commitment to a “modern, reformed police force”.

He says BWV has been shown to reduce complaints against police officers, help prevent crimes occurring and provide clear evidence of incidents when required.

“I promised that I would invest in a modern, forward-thinking police force that makes the best use of technology to provide an efficient and effective service.

“This technology provides a higher quality of service for victims with high-quality evidence which increases the chance of conviction.

“The increased transparency which the video provides helps to reassure the public, giving our communities greater confidence in the police service.”

Mr Campion said by making sure officers have the tools they need to “do their difficult jobs to the best of their abilities, it will make much better use of their time and resources all round”.

Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said this “vital technological upgrade” was an important step in “realising their vision of becoming a fully modernised police force”.

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