71% of police forces deploy body-worn cameras, but cannot show when footage is used in court

A report published by civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch reveals that 71% of UK police forces have spent £22,703,235 on 47,922 body-worn cameras, but are unable to show how many guilty pleas or convictions have been obtained based on footage obtained from the technology.

Body-worn cameras have been billed by both the police service and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as critical technology for reducing violence against officers, improving transparency in police/public relations and assisting in obtaining guilty pleas as well as being an essential tool in speeding up justice when footage is used as evidence in a Court of Law.

Using Freedom of Information requests, the 27-page ‘Smile… You’re on Body-Worn Camera Part II – Police’ report has sought to establish if these promised benefits are accurate.

Renate Samson, CEO of Big Brother Watch, stated: “The police service repeatedly reassures the public that body-worn cameras will enhance transparency, create better relations and improve prosecution rates, but despite 71% of forces rolling out nearly 48,000 cameras, these benefits are yet to be conclusively proven.”

Renate Samson

Renate Samson

Samson continued: “It says little for the approach to transparency that neither the police service nor the CPS could tell us how often footage from the cameras has been used in court proceedings. Police trials of the technology have proven inconclusive, while problems have been reported with the cameras themselves. If the future of policing is to arm all officers with wearable surveillance, the value of the technology must be proven and not just assumed. It’s simply not enough to tell the public that body-worn cameras are essential policing tools if the benefits cannot be shown.”

In light of its study findings, Big Brother Watch has made three policy recommendations:

*Data must be collated and published to show how often body-worn camera footage is used as evidence during court proceedings and in obtaining early guilty pleas

*Forces must publish regular transparency reports in order to highlight how body-worn cameras are being used in day-to-day policing

*Forces should ensure that all body-worn cameras deployed feature a visual aid and screen showing clearly when the citizen is being filmed. Protection of data when at rest or in transit must be standard

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

Related Posts