All Metropolitan Police vans used to transport detainees are to be fitted with CCTV as part of Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s strategy to boost public confidence in the force and ensure officers are accountable for their actions.
The Met’s fleet of 129 vans will each have five video cameras which will record inside and outside the van, plus three microphones and two monitors to record and monitor detainees while they’re being transported to a custody suite.
Audio and video visual recording commences as soon as the van’s ignition is started and continues for 30 minutes after the ignition is switched off. Footage will be kept for 22 days unless needed for a criminal investigation.
CCTV has already been retrofitted to 121 of the Met’s vans, and the remaining vehicles will be upgraded “in the coming months”. All new vans will include the system as standard.
Sir Bernard has expressed hope that the cameras will address the concerns of families of those who have died in police custody and said the footage recorded by them would “provide a great opportunity to increase our transparency and ensure we’re doing our job properly.”
He added: “This is part of the rollout of new technology to the frontline and will serve to join up images from body worn cameras, which will be rolled-out across London in the coming months, with those already captured in our custody suites.
“This equipment will be able to make a record of some of the very challenging circumstances police officers are asked to deal with on a daily basis and then demonstrate, more effectively, the reality of policing our capital and our officers’ professionalism.”
Sir Bernard’s announcement has been welcomed by Baroness Jenny Jones, a member of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee and campaigner for greater police accountability who first called for CCTV to be fitted to vans in 2008.
Baroness Jones said: “I am glad that the Commissioner has finally responded to the calls from me and others to make CCTV in police vans a priority. Having cameras in and outside of police vans will help to rebuild trust in the police providing the cameras are operated according to a strict code.
“The Met need to enforce the rules that will ensure these cameras cannot be switched off by individual officers and that the film is preserved for a sufficient amount of time. I only wish that the Met would act on these suggestions more quickly and make restoring community trust a bigger priority.”
Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon commented: “The introduction of CCTV in all vans used to transport detainees is a very welcome development. Indeed I wish it had taken place a long time ago.
“These cameras will increase the confidence and the accountability of the police and improve policing standards as well as stopping vexatious complaints by detainees which can be incredibly difficult to investigate when no visual or audible footage exists. This is a win-win decision all round.”