Hampshire is expected to be the first police force to kit out all frontline officers with body worn video cameras. Chief constable, Andy Marsh, said he was “‘absolutely confident” that the force would be “at the forefront of this technology for the public, to put them first and to do a good job for them”.
- In the wake of the plebgate scandal, the former shadow home secretary David Davies recently made the case for police officers to be kitted out with body-worn cameras
- The Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe also said officers would trial cameras following the death of Mark Duggan
In 2006, police services in the UK partnered up with British technology company, Reveal Media to design “an independent witness” in the form of a forward facing video camera which would attach to police officers uniforms. Body worn video (BWV) cameras capture video and audio evidence from a first person perspective which can later be used in court. Hampshire police and the Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes hold regular meetings for the public to hold the Chief Constable, Andy Marsh to account.
The most recent Compass meeting took place at the University of Winchester earlier this month and was filmed for the www.thejusticegap.com.
“Every single front line uniform officer will wear body worn video and I believe that we’ll be the first police force nationally and probably actually in the western world where all officers use those,” said Andy Marsh. He argued that that the cameras were essential for a number of reasons including quicker justice, fairer justice and an independent witness.
“This commitment by Government is recognition of the massive benefit body-worn video offers in terms of building trust with the public – and having an accurate and verifiable digital record of the evidence.”
Gavin McMillan, chief inspector and BWV project lead for Hampshire Constabulary
Unsurprisingly, civil liberties groups have attacked spy cameras. Emma Carr, deputy director of Big Brother Watch, said that the use of body-worn cameras had “the potential to seriously undermine trust between the police and members of the community”.
“It is far from clear why the police need this kind of equipment, and the police should concentrate their efforts on engaging with the local community to tackle the issues of anti-social behaviour rather than resorting to underhand surveillance tactics.”
Emma Carr, Big Brother Watch
Bracken is police and crime reporter for Winchester News Online and student at the University of Winchester