British Transport Police bosses have been urged to follow the Met’s example and fit CCTV cameras to their fleet of custody vans.
Two years ago former Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe ordered that the force’s entire fleet of 129 vans be fitted with cameras to ensure detainees were monitored while being transported to custody suites.
As well as ensuring the wellbeing of detainees, the cameras protect officers from spurious complaints from those they’ve arrested.
Alongside the vans’ CCTV, the presence of cameras in and around custody suites and the Met’s adoption of body worn cameras means a prisoner’s entire time with officers is captured on video.
Liberal Democrat and Green politicians say this model should be adopted by the British Transport Police which operates 28 vans across the capital none of which, according to an FOI response, are equipped with cameras.
Caroline Pidgeon, a LibDem member of the London Assembly, says the force, which patrols the capital’s Tube and rail networks, “should quickly learn a lesson from the Met which has long recognised that video cameras with microphones are vital in ensuring there is transparency and public confidence in the transportation of detainees.”
Her call has been echoed by Green Party peer and former Metropolitan Police Authority member Baroness Jenny Jones.
Jones, a longtime campaigner for police accountability, said: “The British Transport Police need to catch up with best practice by installing cameras in vans as quickly as possible.
“There is an expectation that the police, as well as the people they arrest, will be held accountable for their actions and cameras in vans assist the arrest and detention process.”
Unlike the Met which answers to the Mayor, and forces outside the capital which are overseen by elected Police and Crime Commissioners, BTP is supervised by an appointed police authority.
This means that although Mayor Sadiq Khan pays millions of pounds each year to the force, he has almost no control over how it operates in the capital.
Commenting on this disparity, Baroness Jones said: “The British Transport Police are an aberration because unlike other police services there is no direct, elected scrutiny. That needs to change as part of making them more responsive to public concerns.”