More Police Staff to Wear Portable Cameras
Clear evidence suggests that more police staff will be wearing portable cameras. Already 20 police forces throughout England and Wales are carrying cameras on their uniforms. It is part of a test phase the Home Office started in the beginning of 2014. The trial is costing £1.4 million, with extra funding available for further areas like Hampshire, Gwent, Leicestershire, Thames Valley, County Durham, and the Met. Any police officer that carries firearms will have video cameras. The idea was started after Mark Duggan died. The camera concept is meant to help with evidence collection.
It is no surprise that those who stand accused try to come up with reasonable doubt in a court of law. The concept of police cameras for uniforms is designed to help keep this down by using the cameras to capture any evidence at a scene or during an arrest in order to ensure successful prosecution under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
The footage taken with the cameras are designed to help custody sergeants, review officers, case directors, and the Crown Prosecution Service. While there are 20 police forces utilising cameras, only 300 neighbourhood and response officers will have them as part of their uniforms.
Police Force Thoughts
A focus group was asked for their opinion on the cameras. The group had some pros and cons about the current cameras being used, the potential of new camera technology and the benefits of evidence collection. The group also examined video downloading problems that might arise when cameras are brought in and the record looked over.
There is definitely an issue with clarity of evidence that many are worrying about. The idea is to have clear images even during night time policing; however, when police are running, if they need to handcuff a suspect and for a variety of other reasons the cameras may not be clear enough. At least, this is one concern. The hope is that after testing out the technology and using the cameras police will be able to clearly show proper procedure, proper evidence and even encourage any offender to plead guilty earlier helping to shorten court cases and get justice for victims.
Potential Statement Replacement
Numerous hours are spent writing statements after each and every case. One hope is that with the police cameras statement writing times can be shortened. With the record to stand for itself and a written statement it should be easier to prove the case. The cameras being used will be used to upload to the IT system at the Police Force.
Some Police have Used Cameras for Decades
Leicestershire has 200 cameras which they have used since 2001. The Home Office is going to help with £300,000 for Leicestershire to purchase even more cameras to make certain that every community and operational officer has one.
Already the officers in this police force have found cameras to be a great help, not only with their statement writing, but also in convictions and helping to put an end to cases. Cameras can be used for evidence collection in a number of cases from domestic violence all the way up the scale to murder. Even traffic accidents can be recorded by police to avoid any issues later with regard to statements, cars, and damage.
UK versus US
The United States has already shown experience with using cameras during police situations. Their reports clearly show that with the use of cameras during police procedures the number of complaints against officers fell. The UK is starting to see this as well in areas that have used cameras for several years as well as the new locations getting cameras in 2014.
The record is in real time, which helps to ensure police are upholding the law. Despite evidence that cameras are working there are still those who worry about the backlash. Some feel the courts will not take to camera evidence like they resisted DNA and fingerprint evidence. The camera is also on the body so this can create issues with clarity, as already stated, but US evidence is showing this is a mild concern.
Getting More Cameras in Play
The Home Office, despite criticisms, is not going to stop placing cameras on officers. Over the last 10 to 12 years more cameras have been added and soon every officer may have a camera. As technology becomes better issues with clarity and using the cameras will correct themselves according to supports. Each police force does need to get on the trial and not start and stop the concept because the evidence is already in that guilty pleas are increasing with solid camera evidence.