Police officers across Shropshire will be equipped with the latest in wearable surveillance equipment next year after receiving a £1 million investment in the technology.
Technology to serve and protect
Officers will wear a small body worn camera allowing them to record incidents they attend. The investment was made after studies suggested that when officers wear body cams, the number of potential complaints is reduced drastically. Recording incidents means no lost data or details, which should serve to protect both the police and the public.
The move comes after a consistent campaign by West Mercia police and crime commissioner, John Campion. Having promised last September to see the technology brought in, it will finally become a reality from 2017.
Initially, firearm officers and those handling tasers will be the first to be equipped with the cameras, with a total of 2,200 being rolled out across West Mercia and Warwickshire. Mr Campion hopes the cameras will provide comprehensive coverage of incidents involving police, which in turn will reduce complaints and provide evidence when necessary. He also said the cameras will benefit officers as they provide evidence of what occurs when police are involved in incidents and should provide more clarity.
Body cameras such as those that will be used in policing, are small, reliable and durable technology that can be worn on the chest without restricting movement. They then record in high resolution and capture clear sound recording. The relevant officers will be trained on the technical operation of the equipment. Cameras designed for security operatives are supplied by specialist retailers such as http://www.pinnacleresponse.com/body-cameras-and-the-law/.
There are also certain restrictions under the Data Protection Act, which will need to be fully addressed before the initiative begins. Officers must, where possible, make people aware of when they are being recorded. The recorded data must also be securely processed, encrypted and stored in accordance with the DPA.
Studies conducted by the University of Cambridge showed that the presence of a body worn camera could reduce the chances of ill-founded complaints against the police by as much as 93%. Police forces in the USA have already begun trialling the technology, and it will more than likely become common place in the near future.
It is believed the initiative may serve as a blueprint for police forces countrywide in future.