Hackney police officers have been issued with body cameras in an effort to reduce and better handle crime in the borough.
The Met Police is spending £3.4 million to supply 22,000 body cameras to officers across 32 London boroughs. The first were issued at the end of last year and this month Hackney became the latest area to see officers carrying the devices.
The first 500 cameras have now been distributed to officers throughout the borough, with the aim of offering “greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as behind it,” according to the Met.
“Over the coming months cameras will be issued to all boroughs and a number of frontline specialist roles, including overt firearms officers,” said the Met. “The deployment of all 22,000 cameras will be managed in a phased approach and is anticipated to be complete by the summer.”
It has been proved that these body-worn video cameras have successfully brought “speedier justice for victims” and increased “earlier guilty pleas from offenders who know their actions have been recorded,” the Met police told EastLondonLines.
Many people have expressed concerns over privacy following the introduction of these camera. However, the Met has stated that the cameras will not be recording constantly and officers must inform relevant members of the public when they begin to film.
Detective Inspector Lee McCullough, Hackney’s Body Worn Camera lead, said: “Body Worn Video is an important addition to the equipment we provide to our frontline officers. It can be difficult to articulate what officers have witnessed, however with both an audio and visual capability, the cameras deliver much needed context in our presentation of evidence and provide further reassurance to the community.”
The Mayor’s office for Policing and Crime awarded the three-year £3.4 million contract following a successful trial of the cameras. This contract was created in November 2015, and the £3.4 million will now be paid to Axon Public Safety UK Limited, formerly known as TASER International, the company responsible for the TASER stun gun. Earlier this month, TASER changed its name to Axon, and offered free body-worn cameras to police in the US for the next year in an attempt to promote use of these cameras.
Hackney was ranked the 10th most dangerous London borough in 2016 by verisure.co.uk. There were 4,198 crimes reported in the months of January and February 2016 alone, with the most common being theft and handling, which accounted for 39 per cent of reported crime in the borough in 2015 and 2016.
These cameras are designed to improve police interactions for all parties. Police will be encouraged and reminded to act according to protocol, and the public interacting with them will be made more aware of their own actions.
A Cambridge University study conducted between 2014 and 2015 showed that police wearing body cameras receive 93 per cent fewer complaints. The study concluded that: “There can be no doubt that BWCs increase the transparency of frontline policing.”
A similar study conducted in California concluded that “the likelihood of police use-of-force when officers did not wear body worn cameras (BWCs) was roughly twice than of when officers wore BWCs, and the number of complaints lodged against officers dropped from 0.7 complaints per 1,000 contacts to 0.07 per 1,000 contacts.”