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Final boroughs receive Body Worn Video

News   •   Aug 22, 2017 06:00 BST

Officers from Kingston upon Thames and Merton will be the last two boroughs to receive their Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras following their official launch on Monday, 21 August.

BWV is being issued to around 219 of Kingston's and 321 of Merton's public facing police officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) - cameras will also be available for specialist departments.

Since August 2016, officers have recorded almost 800,000 videos of which 500,000 have auto deleted from the system as per the MPS policy on retention of footage

The cameras have the potential to help bring speedier justice for victims by increasing the opportunities for obtaining early guilty pleas because offenders know their actions have been recorded.

The equipment will offer greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as those behind it. Londoners can feel reassured during their interactions with the police, whilst BWV will also help officers gather evidence and demonstrate their professionalism in the face of the many challenges involved in policing the capital.

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.

The MPS is the only UK police force digitally sharing BWV with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), with officers now routinely submitting more than 3,000 clips a month, leading to speedier justice and saving on time and the cost of officers burning and safely distributing around 6,000 discs.

The MPS has been awarded the Surveillance Camera Commissioner's accreditation scheme. Greater Manchester Police are the only other UK force awarded this.

The MPS have also been given a Directorate of Audit, Risk and Assurance (DARA) rating of 'substantive' following a MOPAC audit of Body Worn Video.

The BWV pilot, which was run in conjunction with the College Of Policing, is among the 34 short-listed projects that will receive a Best Practice Certificate in the European Public Sector Awards (EPSA) 2017 which had the theme "An Innovative Public Sector in 2017: New Solutions to Complex Challenges". The EPSA received 150 innovative solutions to current and complex challenges our societies are facing from public administrations across 30 different European countries and from several EU institutions and agencies. The final winner will be announced in Maastricht in November 2017.

The BWV team presented at the BSI British Standards Institution launch of the UK's code of practice for the deployment and use of BWV and have recently presented on BWV "Benefits and Challenges" to the National Fire Chiefs' Council.

Inspector James Ellis, who leads the Body Worn Video project team, said: "Body Worn Video is an important addition to the equipment we provide to our officers; it is an invaluable tool to combat crime and one that will make policing safer and support both officers and the public.

"In addition to the cameras, we also have first class accompanying software to manage all data downloaded from the camera in a secure, systematic and professional manner. It is fully integrated with existing Met crime reporting methods and procedures for conveying evidence from the scene into the evidential chain for admission at court.

"It can sometimes be difficult to articulate what officers have witnessed, however with both an audio and visual capability, the footage it captures at a scene will provide a compelling addition to the evidence we are able to present.

"Body Worn Video will provide further reassurance to London's communities of our enhanced ability to support victims of crime and directly record criminal behaviour and its consequences."

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 should be made as soon as possible after the event as under data retention policies footage that is not marked as police evidence will auto delete from the system within 31 days of the incident

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.