Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s new East Area Command, which covers the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, and Redbridge, will all take to the streets this week wearing Body Worn Video (BWV).
Monday, 20 March sees the deployment of Body Worn Video being issued to around 900 police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) working in Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham, following its official launch.
Officers in Havering were issued with around 350 cameras last November.
Additional cameras will also be available for specialist departments.
The cameras have already shown they can help bring speedier justice for victims. They have proved particularly successful in domestic abuse cases where there has been an increase in earlier guilty pleas from offenders who know their actions have been recorded.
The technology offers greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as behind it. Londoners can feel reassured during their interactions with the police, whilst the cameras allow the Met to demonstrate the professionalism of officers in many challenging and contentious interactions, such as the use of stop and search.
All footage recorded on BWV is subject to legal safeguards and guidance. The footage from the camera is automatically uploaded to secure servers once the device has been docked, and flagged for use as evidence at court or other proceedings. Video not retained as evidence or for a policing purpose is automatically deleted within 31 days.
If the public wish to view footage taken of them they can request, in writing, to obtain it under freedom of information and data protection laws. The request must be within 31 days of the incident unless it has been marked as police evidence and therefore retained.
The cameras are worn attached to the officer's uniform and do not permanently record. This ensures interactions with the public are not unnecessarily impeded. Members of the public are told as soon as practical that they are being recorded. When the camera is recording, it is highly visible with a flashing red circle in the centre of the camera and a frequent beeping noise when it's activated.
Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, lead for response policing in the East Area Command, said:
“Body Worn Video is an important addition to the equipment we provide to our front line officers. It can be difficult to articulate what officers have witnessed however, with both an audio and visual capability, the cameras provide much needed context in our presentation of evidence.
“I see the issuing of the cameras as an important mechanism to combat crime and one which will support both officers and the public.”
Over the coming months cameras will be issued to all 32 London boroughs and a number of front-line specialist roles, including overt firearms officers. The deployment of all 22,000 cameras will be managed in a phased approach and is anticipated to be complete by the summer.
The East Area Command was set up in January as a test site for a proposed restructure of local policing, which entails moving from a borough-based policing model to Basic Command Units (BCU). This approach is currently being tested in two areas that have been brought together; Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering boroughs; and Camden and Islington boroughs.