Next generation BWV

A new intelligent headcam system being trialled by Derbyshire Constabulary is proving a major crime deterrent, reducing time spent on paperwork by more than 30 per cent.

Feb 19, 2009
By Paul Jacques

A new intelligent headcam system being trialled by Derbyshire Constabulary is proving a major crime deterrent, reducing time spent on paperwork by more than 30 per cent.

Derbyshire Constabulary has been undertaking a trial of a new headcam that could provide a ‘blueprint’ for the way police services manage next generation body worn video (BWV) technology.

The new BWV evidence management system, developed jointly with Scyron, the security and surveillance services company, is already helping to secure convictions, proving a major deterrent and reducing time spent by officers on paperwork by more than 30 per cent.

The trial uses new miniature camera technology mounted on a headband and/or police officer’s jacket that includes the world’s first software-based administration and evidence management system for BWV.

An officer starting a shift simply scans their ID card with a handheld barcode scanner (similar to those found in supermarkets). This tells the system which officer has what BWV equipment and memory card. At the end of the shift an officer again uses the barcode scanner and then downloads the video and audio footage via a memory card reader into the computer system. From a drop-down menu, the officer next decides if the footage is evidentially relevant.

The data can then be burned onto a DVD which is automatically labelled with key information and printed with the force’s crest. The system then creates a statement to accompany the video evidence, including the officer’s details (held on the system and identified by the ID barcode), the date and time their shift began and when the footage was taken. All the officer has to do is enter specific incident-related details.

“The technology is helping us enormously, enabling us to be more efficient in securing convictions as well as saving officers a huge amount of time,” said Sergeant David Stafford. “Whereas an arrest statement could take one to two hours to prepare, the video evidence and statement is prepared in around ten minutes.”

Once the data is downloaded the memory card can be automatically wiped clean for repeat use. The video and audio on the system is kept and automatically erased in accordance with Home Office evidence rules to comply with the management of police information. The tamper-proof system records a full audit trail each time footage is accessed.

Scyron developed the Demon BWV Manager software, which runs on a Microsoft Windows® operating system, with Derbyshire Constabulary, after a review of how other police forces were deploying similar headcam technology.

“We saw a huge opportunity to automate the process of gathering body worn video from crime scenes so that it virtually administers itself,” said Mike Wilks, Scyron’s CEO. “The issue is not the effectiveness of the cameras but how to handle the huge volume of video evidence efficiently and in accordance with evidential rules.

“While Devon and Cornwall Constabulary were trail-blazers in trialling head camera devices, Derbyshire has pioneered and automated the all important administration and back-office system. We believe this is creating a blueprint for police services across the world.”

The headcam trial was focused on the Derby North police district, which includes the city centre. The pilot system was installed last June with the official trial period running from October 1 to December 31. A total of 75 officers (including police community support officers) have been trained to use the software which has helped to secure convictions for volume crime such as assault, public disorder and domestic violence

“While we cannot claim to put more officers on the streets with this technology, we can say that officers using it spend more time on patrol and less time writing statements,” said Graham McLaughlin, chief inspector, Derbyshire Constabulary. “An unforeseen benefit of using BWV is a reduction in complaints against officers. In the past, most complaints relate to alleged abusive or heavy-ha

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