The Mayor of London and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service today, Tuesday, 24 November, confirmed that plans to introduce police body worn video to all frontline police officers are moving ahead, as a new report finds strong public support for the cameras.
A three-year contract to provide 22,000 body worn video devices across the Met has now been awarded, with the first deliveries due early next year. The move follows the world's largest trial of the cameras, across 10 London boroughs over 12 months. In a new report by the Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime and the College of Policing, the use of the cameras has been welcomed by Londoners and found to reduce some types of complaints and allegations against police officers.
Following the success of the trial, the new cameras will be rolled out to the majority of uniformed officers by spring 2016, and are being funded through the sale of underused police buildings. Once rolled out, the cameras will be in use by more officers in a single city than anywhere else in the world to date.
The new report suggests that the benefits of the body worn video cameras could grow as their use is expanded, and 92 per cent of the public questioned about the cameras agreed that they improve police accountability. The cameras were found to help collect evidence and officers reported it resolved issues sooner. They did not alter the quality of policing and offered officers greater confidence if challenged, as well as footage to support their decision-making for example during stop and search and in domestic abuse cases.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: "This is a huge step forward in bringing London's police force into the 21st century, by reinvesting money from the sale of old and underused buildings. Already these confidence boosting cameras have helped reduce complaints and make our officers more accountable. But it's clear our trial simply scratched the surface and, once rolled out, these cameras have massive potential to help our officers continue their great work in fighting crime and keeping our city safe."
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: "I'm delighted that we will be able to press ahead with Body Worn Video. Soon, all our front line officers will be able to make a record of the very challenging circumstances they are asked to deal with on a daily basis. It will also improve public scrutiny of how we carry out our role which is a vital part of being an accountable police officer. It is also an essential tool in gathering evidence of offences."
Nerys Thomas, Knowledge, Research and Practice Lead at the College of Policing, said: "This has been the largest trial of body worn video cameras anywhere in the world and has found the equipment reduced allegations against officers in the trial by a third.
"As the professional body for everyone in policing, the College is responsible for building the evidence base of what works to help officers and staff make informed decisions, including the most effective way to use resources and prevent crime. Trials like this one contribute to that evidence base and its findings, along with other policing research, can be found through the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction."
The new contract has been awarded to Axon Public Safety UK Ltd, as part of TASER, following a full procurement process.
TASER CEO and Founder Rick Smith, said: “This technology is driving a global trend toward smarter, more transparent policing and we're thrilled to be partnering with one of the largest and most respected police forces in the world that is at the forefront of that trend.”
This investment puts London's force at the forefront of innovative policing, and has been made possible with funds raised through the sale of underutilised police buildings. The top 10 sales alone, including the £370 million disposal of the New Scotland Yard site in Victoria, have raised £661million so far for reinvestment in frontline policing.