Fringe Box



Police Commissioner Commits to Body Worn Cameras

Published on: 9 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 10 Jul, 2015

Body-Worn-CCTVSurrey police officers may soon be equipped with body worn cameras.

Kevin Hurley, police and crime commissioner for Surrey, himself a former police officer, says he is committed to providing body worn cameras for frontline officers in the force.

The small unobtrusive cameras, attached to the front of the uniform, will be activated by the officer and take video footage of incidents as they unfold. The introduction of these cameras would bring Surrey Police into line with some neighbouring forces.

Kevin Hurley said: “These cameras will provide unprecedented advantages in gathering evidence, deterring suspects from abusive or violent behaviour, recording all conversation between the officer and the suspect, and protecting the officer from baseless complaints.

“They will mean that officers can stay on the beat instead of wasting time returning to base to write up notes. By providing incontrovertible evidence to juries, they will also save time and costs in the courts.”

In support of the chief constable’s recent public consultation on the subject, the cameras will be purchased as soon as she has made appropriate recommendations on procurement.

But according to Surrey Police’s own website the chief constable has not yet made up her mind on the subject and the public consultation continues.

The website states: “…body worn cameras is an idea being explored by the force.

“The main purpose of the camera is to capture evidence. Officers are frequently called to incidents where the cameras could capture who was involved, what involvement they had and the impact on the victim. This additional evidence can help speed up the judicial process, freeing up officers to patrol the streets or investigate crime.

“The cameras will show accurate records of encounters between police officer, suspect and/or victim which will give greater accountability and transparency to mitigate false allegations against officers, or where appropriate, hold them to account for their behaviour.

“Chief Constable Lynne Owens would like to hear your views on body worn cameras, considering the following points:

  • Is the significant cost involved in storing so much data good value for money?
  • Would the public suspect bad intent or a cover up from police if an officer was unable to switch on a camera during an incident?
  • Would it be seen as an intrusion into people’s privacy?
  • Are there issues around innocent bystanders being caught on camera and their images stored until non-evidential footage is destroyed?
  • What happens if the footage reaches the 31 day limit and destroyed but needed at a later date for an historic crime, would there be concern and criticism about the routine deletion of older material?
  •  Should there be a minimum age for people recorded and what happens if a child looks older than they are?
  • Officers from surrounding forces and some local authority staff already use camera in our county, so will it make a difference if our officers wear them too?”

Bella Sankey, Director of Policy at Liberty, said: “As Surrey Police becomes the latest constabulary to commit to body worn cameras, practices still vary wildly across the country. It is true that they may be useful tools for rebuilding trust, but they also have the potential to be highly intrusive surveillance tools which will remain open to abuse until proper national guidelines are published.”

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Responses to Police Commissioner Commits to Body Worn Cameras

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 9, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I remember talking with Surrey Police Officers over two years ago who were using body cameras in a trial then. Yet now there is still no decision.

    When will Surrey Police finally make its mind up one way or another? Is there a time-scale to a decision?

    Then the PCC can tell us how he will fund them without threatening to increase the precept by around 25% again.

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