Body worn video cameras go live - Bedfordshire


Bedfordshire Police has now completed the roll out of 60 body worn video cameras for use by frontline officers across the county.

The cameras,  which are worn on the outside of the uniform, are designed to capture the sound as well as an accurate and transparent visual account of interactions with the public by response officers where an evidential record may be required.  The roll out began in the south of the county last week and this week saw response officers in the north supplied with cameras. Officers working on the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) Unit have also been issued with the technology.

Deployment of the 60 cameras follows a significant trial to assess the best technology and value for money as part of a wider approach to safeguarding the public and Bedfordshire Police's frontline.

Battery life of the cameras and the finite ability to store vast amounts of data means not every conversation with a member of the public will be recorded, for example; the devices are used when there is an evidence gathering opportunity and not for general innocent conversations with the public.

Bedfordshire Police policy is that where the use of force, arrests or detentions are anticipated that the recording of the event should start at the earliest opportunity. While the decision to record or not record any incident remains with the device user, they must be mindful that failing to record incidents that are evidential will require explanation in court.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "I welcome the news that Bedfordshire Police has invested in body worn cameras to gather evidence of criminal activity at scenes including violence and disorder.

"The benefits of the cameras are vast.  They will discourage unruly behaviour during arrests, thereby protecting officers and the public, rule out issues of offender identification, and will provide indisputable evidence, which will assist the CPS when making charging decisions and prosecuting cases at court.

"Hopefully, the clarity of the evidence recorded will encourage offenders to plead guilty to offences at an earlier stage, reducing the need for lengthy court cases and ensuring speedier justice for victims and witnesses."

Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Trippett said: "The benefit of body worn cameras is there for all to see and the policy we have trialled requires officers to make sure they capture as much of an incident as possible by recording at the earliest opportunity and if it is possible informing those present they are doing so. Clearly we must also be mindful of filming anyone close by who is not directly involved in the incident however and every attempt to minimise accidental intrusion must also be observed."

During the camera trial Bedfordshire Police consulted with the public and asked the question: "should all uniformed officers have to wear a body worn video camera whilst on duty?" The results showed 79.4 per cent of the 1,882 who answered said "yes and 20.6 per cent said "no." Of the 1,916 who answered the question "Do you feel body worn cameras can help police in your area gather evidence?" an overwhelming 97.3 per cent said "yes."

"These figures, combined with many of the positive comments received during our survey, are good indications that we have strong public support in Bedfordshire,"added Mr Trippett.

Bedfordshire Police has been trialling the cameras since June 2013.