To ensure police transparency and improve quality of evidence
Wandsworth Police will now wear video cameras when they are patrolling the streets.
Body Worn Video (BWV) was launched in Wandsworth this week and cameras are now being issued to around 490 borough frontline police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). Additional cameras will also be available for specialist departments.
The Met Police say that cameras have already shown they can help bring speedier justice for victims. They have proved particularly successful in domestic abuse cases where there has been an increase in earlier guilty pleas from offenders who know their actions have been recorded.
BWV are designed to offer greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as those behind it. The aim is that Londoners feel reassured during their interactions with the police, whilst BWV will also help officers gather evidence and demonstrate their professionalism in the face of the challenges involved in policing the Capital.
All footage recorded on BWV is subject to legal safeguards and guidance. Footage from the cameras is automatically uploaded to secure servers once the device has been docked, and then recordings are flagged for use as evidence at court or other proceedings. Video not retained as evidence or for a policing purpose is automatically deleted within 31 days.
If the public wish to view footage taken of them they can request, in writing, to obtain it under freedom of information and data protection laws. The request must be within 31 days of an incident unless it has been marked as police evidence and therefore retained.
Chief Inspector Dale Anderton, Wandworth's Body Worn Video lead, says, "We are very much looking forward to all of our frontline officers having the ability to record live video. This will further ensure transparency in all our actions, and greatly improve the quality of evidence available to investigators and the courts. This in turn means that the police and our local partners will be able to make Wandsworth even safer."
The cameras are worn attached to the officer's uniform and do not permanently record. This ensures interactions with the public are not unnecessarily impeded. Members of the public are told as soon as practical that they are being recorded. When the camera is recording, it is highly visible with a flashing red circle in the centre of the camera and a frequent beeping noise when it's activated.
Over the coming months cameras will be issued to all 32 London boroughs and a number of frontline specialist roles, including overt firearms officers. The deployment of all 22,000 available cameras will be managed in a phased approach and is anticipated to be complete by the end of the summer.
July 26, 2017
PC Tom Wilkinson and PC Kamal Baldeo