The Met’s roll-out of body worn video cameras officially gets underway today, following months of successful trials and last November’s award of a contract to Taser’s Axon subsidiary.
Over the coming months cameras will be issued to officers in all 32 boroughs policed by the Met, as well as overt firearms officers and those in selected specialist frontline roles. The phased roll-out of 22,000 cameras, the biggest deployment by a single force anywhere in the world, is expected to be completed by next summer.
Scotland Yard says the technology “offers greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as behind it” by providing a record of Londoners’ interactions with the police, while also protecting officers from unfounded complaints.
All footage is uploaded to secure servers when the device is docked at the end of an officer’s shift, and any video not needed for evidence is automatically deleted within 31 days.
Within that period, members of the public can ask to view any footage taken of them.
Members of the public will be told “as soon as practical” when recording is commenced and the cameras will also display a flashing red circle in the centre and emit a frequent beeping noise when the camera is activated.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: “Body Worn Video will support our officers in the many challenging situations they have to deal with, at the same time as building the public’s confidence.
“What we do every day will be seen by the public – that has to be good!
“Our experience of using cameras already shows that people are more likely to plead guilty when they know we have captured the incident on a camera. That then speeds up justice, puts offenders behind bars more quickly and most importantly protects potential victims.
“Video captures events in a way that can’t be represented on paper in the same detail, a picture paints a thousand words, and it has been shown the mere presence of this type of video can often defuse potentially violent situations without the need for force to be used.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said: “Body Worn Video is a huge step forward in bringing our capital’s police force into the 21st century and encouraging trust and confidence in community policing.
“This technology is already helping drive down complaints against officers and making them more accountable, as well as helping to gather better evidence for swifter justice.
“As we roll them out across London, these cameras will make a real difference to officers, as they continue their great work on the frontline fighting crime and keeping our city safe.”