Police and Law Enforcement agencies were amongst the first organisations to test, evaluate and deploy Body Worn Video solutions in large volumes. Below, we look at what was learned from their early adoption including proven successes, potential limitations and recommendations for effective deployment.
The adoption and deployment of body worn cameras provides law enforcement agencies with a number of key opportunities and potential benefits that were previously unobtainable. Headline benefits include:
- Increased public confidence in local and national policing
- A reduction in the number of complaints and allegations made against police officers
- Reduced criminal justice costs due to an increase in early guilty pleas
- De-escalation of anti-social behaviour
- A reduction in the number of assaults on police officers
- Ability to deploy BWV in areas not covered by other forms of CCTV
- Officer skill enhancement through the review of performance at incidents
- Reduction in officer time spent on paperwork
Over recent years, a number of police forces have released detailed reports based on their experiences using body worn cameras. The statistics below are taken from these reports, and indicate that the growing use of body worn cameras is having a positive impact on modern policing:
- 33% reduction in complaint allegations - Metropolitan Police (UK)
- Public support for BWV - Metropolitan Police (UK)
- Police equipped with body-worn cameras receive 93% fewer complaints from the public - Cambridge University
- 59% reduction in use-of-force incidents by officers wearing cameras - Rialto, California (USA)
- 39% increase in early guilty pleas - Police Scotland (UK)
Alongside the organisational value of the cameras, the officers themselves have also experienced a positive outcome from wearing body worn cameras with 93% of officers believing body cameras help with evidence gathering and 80% of officers feeling body worn cameras should be compulsory.
One of the major outcomes from the early adoption of body worn cameras by the police was the recognition that agencies must have a clear deployment plan and policy for the use of the cameras.
Common policies in the UK include body worn cameras being worn overtly to remove any doubt as to their purpose, any recordings made should be incident specific and while the recordings should be uninterrupted they must be proportionate, legitimate and necessary.
Many of the key considerations highlighted by law enforcement agencies have been formalised and outlined in the BSI's BS 8593 Policy for the Effective Deployment of Body Worn Video.
This include factors such as: