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Civil liberties group questions success of Police worn cameras

16 August 2017

A NEW report claims that police forces are unable to confirm how many convictions have resulted from footage recorded by officers wearing body worn cameras.

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

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

Using Freedom of Information requests the report, which is titled Smile you’re on body worn camera Part II – Policehas sought to establish if these promised benefits are accurate. Big Brother Watch chief executive Renate Samson said: “The police repeatedly reassure 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.

“It says little for the approach to transparency that neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service could tell us how often footage from the cameras has been used in court proceedings.

“Police trials of the technology have proven inconclusive and 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 is not enough to tell the public they are essential policing tools if the benefits cannot be shown.”