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London armed police to wear cameras

14 August 2017

THE METROPOLITAN Police Service (MPS) has announced the rollout of head-mounted cameras to overt firearm officers.

The cameras are being issued to all on the Armed Response Units in our Firearms Command, allowing them to wear the new technology on their baseball caps and ballistic helmets. The Firearms Command will receive around 1,000 Axon Flex 2 cameras to encompass the additional firearms officers recruited as part of Operation Hercules.

More than 17,500 Body Worn Video (BVW) cameras have been rolled out so far in London in what is thought to be the largest rollout of body worn cameras by police in the world. The cameras have already been issued to frontline officers in 30 of the 32 boroughs, to officers from the Roads and Transport Policing Command, the Territorial Support Group and the Dog Support Unit. The remaining boroughs will be issued with BWV prior to the bank holiday weekend.

Commander Matt Twist, in charge of the Firearms Command, said: "Officers who carry an overt firearm as part of their role very much welcome the use of Body Worn Video. It provides a documented and accurate account of the threats officers face and the split second decisions they make. The cameras also offer greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as those behind it."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan added: "Body Worn Video is a huge step forward in bringing our capital's police force into the 21st century and building trust and confidence in the city's policing. This technology is helping to drive down complaints against officers across London and will make a real difference to those carrying firearms, increasing accountability and helping to gather better evidence for swifter justice. As we complete the London-wide rollout, the cameras will also provide our officers with confidence in the transparency of their actions, as they continue their great work on the frontline fighting crime and keeping our city safe."

The cameras have the potential to help bring speedier justice for victims by increasing the opportunities for obtaining early guilty pleas because offenders know their actions have been recorded.

Since September 2016, officers have recorded almost 785,000 videos of which 460,000 have auto-deleted from the system as per the MPS policy on retention of footage. The MPS is the only UK police force digitally sharing BWV with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), with officers now routinely submitting more than 3,000 clips a month, leading to speedier justice and saving on time and cost of officers burning and safely distributing around 6,000 discs.

All footage recorded on BWV is subject to legal safeguards and guidance. The footage from the camera is automatically uploaded to secure servers once the device has been docked and 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 should be made as soon as possible after the event as under data retention policies footage that is not marked as police evidence will auto delete from the system within 31 days of the incident.

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 is 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.

The MPS has been awarded the Surveillance Camera Commissioner's accreditation scheme. Greater Manchester Police are the only other UK force awarded this. The MPS has also been given a Directorate of Audit, Risk and Assurance (DARA) rating of Substantive following a MOPAC audit of Body Worn Video.

The deployment of all 22,000 cameras is anticipated to be complete by the end of October. These will be issued to units such as the Mounted Branch, Aviation Policing, Royalty and Specialist Protection, Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection and Specialist Crime Units which include Trident and the Homicide and Major Crime Command.