Police officers have always faced close scrutiny for their actions. This has been more evident in the UK since the shooting of Mark Duggan that sparked nationwide riots in 2011, and more recently in the US, where a number of incidents have occurred where white officers have seemingly killed unarmed black civilians.
So is a body worn camera the answer to being able to see and understand the reasoning behind actions taken by an individual officer or group of officers?
Pros of body-worn cameras
A clearer picture
The footage from these cameras can help give a much clearer picture of what actually happened in an incident. Police reports and eyewitness accounts are all subject to discrepancies. Video evidence removes uncertainty and can especially help in terms of timings.
It is an unwritten rule that people behave better when they are aware they are being watched. This applies to both the officers and the other parties involved in an incident. This theory was borne out in a 2013 University of Cambridge study, which found that when police wear body cameras, both parties are significantly less likely to use violence.
Easy to use
Body worn cameras are not bulky and can be located in various locations on the user’s body.
To learn about the current UK legislation surrounding the use of body cameras, how they can help your business, and to see the latest cameras available, check out a website such as https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/legislation.
Cons of body-worn cameras
Privacy issues are a concern for all parties, and how to deal with this is still to be conclusively decided. Would you feel okay with footage of you being questioned being publicly available, whether you have been a victim of a crime or you are a suspect?
These cameras are not cheap so clearly adopting an ‘every officer must have one’ policy is going to involve a large initial investment. Whether this would be paid back from savings made through avoiding lawsuits or court cases is something that is yet to be determined.
What happens to the footage? How is it stored and where and what are the rules around deletion/retrieval? This can be a complex area and would add to the increasing administrative workload of police forces.