Staffordshire Police is investing £1.6 million in upgrading its high-tech equipment including body cameras for officers that automatically switch on when Tasers are produced. The upgrade means 1,600 cameras will be bought to replace the 600 they currently have. This means all officers, police community support officers and special officers will have their own camera instead of having to share them.
Why have body cameras?
The move follows a review by an Ethics, Transparency and Audit Panel, whose members recommended these body worn cameras should be compulsory when officers are conducting stop and searches or investigating allegations of domestic abuse. The cameras can provide vital evidence in investigations and allow for greater transparency when dealing with members of the public. Staffordshire Police report that the body cams can act as a deterrent when dealing with offenders in addition to being useful if a complaint is made against officers.
Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis believes that giving all frontline officers body cams is key to building public confidence in the force. The evidence gathered by the cameras removes any doubt as to what has happened during a situation or crime, so the facts are clear. This technology can help protect officers and open up the way for police to deal with the public.
How do they work?
When a button is pressed, the cameras record audio and video. This material is automatically downloaded to a secure server. It can then be used as evidence in prosecutions or for reviewing police matters. The new technology also means the cameras can be turned on automatically when a Taser is switched on within 30 feet of the camera. The new cameras can store more data, and officers will be able to transfer footage directly into the Courts system. Body worn cameras can be seen at sites like https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/, where you can get more details about their capabilities.
Capturing evidence on camera is more valuable than thousands of written words because it cannot be disputed. The audio and video evidence is a powerful tool in the courts. Matthew Ellis said it’s more powerful for a jury to see a video of when officers arrive at a domestic abuse scene. The footage can be sent to court quickly, and it may mean vulnerable victims do not have to appear in court.