Body worn video cameras are being introduced into the South Wales Police force as part of operational equipment and will be rolled out over the next few months.
Forces across the UK are using this technology and integrating it into daily policing activities. Body worn video may be used in court as evidence and for investigative purposes, including complaints against police or as a training material for police.
Other forces have seen a range of benefits from using body worn video to support their general patrolling and investigative tasks. These benefits include:
- Gathering and presentation of evidence
- Changing the behaviour of offenders
- Lower incidence or escalation of violence
- Increased guilty pleas by defendants
- Increased time on patrol and less time spent on paperwork
- Improved public co-operation and interactions with police
- Improved transparency and accountability
- Professionalising police interaction
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Equipping our officers with body worn cameras is the start of a new way we capture, utilise and share digital evidence. The technology is very exciting and will assist officers and staff in doing their jobs, it will ensure that we are more accountable to the public that we serve and in turn build trust with our communities.
“This will be one of the largest deployment of body worn video cameras to police officers outside of the Metropolitan Police with all uniform frontline officers being personally equipped with devices and all our PCSO’s. Soon our officers and staff will be able to record the challenges they face on a daily basis.”
Body worn video is a secure, self-contained video and audio recording system built into a camera. The camera is worn on the body of a police officer so it can be easily seen and identifiable. The cameras will provide an objective representation of officer community contact, provide officers a useful tool for evidence collection and can be utilised during courtroom testimony.
Officers will wear the camera on their body clearly visible to the public. Body worn video will only record when an officer has activated the record function on the camera. A red flashing light will indicate that the camera is recording. Prior to police recording a conversation, where practicable, officers will advise the person they are speaking with that they are being recorded.
ACC Lewis added: “The use of the camera will be at the officers’ discretion in the main but we will be providing direction on when they should be used for instance when carrying out a stop and search, when attending an incident of domestic violence or when they feel there will be a use of force, but officers will generally use the camera when they would normally use their notebook to record information, capture evidence or record something of relevance or when exercising a police power.
“As a force, we are committed to innovation and implementing modern technology to enhance officers’ job performance, to better protect our communities and to strengthen public trust. We are confident that it will benefit the police, the courts and the community.”
A total of 2,300 officers (including PCs, Sergeants and PCSOs) will be personally issued with a body camera. Cardiff officers will all have cameras by the end of May with officers across the rest of the force area being issued with their cameras from June onwards.