Firearms officers issued with Body Worn Video cameras
Firearms police officers are to be issued with body-worn video cameras following a successful trial.
The equipment is being issued to 270 Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs), across Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police.
The rollout of the cameras follows a successful trial and public consultation.
The cameras will be issued to all firearms officers and represent a significant development in the use of technology to capture the best evidence for victims, and reduce the likelihood of victims and witnesses having to appear in court if an offender offers an early guilty plea. This has proved particularly successful in domestic abuse cases where there has been an increase in earlier guilty pleas from offenders who know their actions have been recorded.
The technology offers greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as behind it. The public can feel reassured during their interactions with the police, whilst demonstrating the professionalism of officers in challenging and contentious interactions.
The cameras will be attached to the officer's uniform and will not permanently record. This ensures that officers' interactions with the public are not unnecessarily impeded.
All footage recorded with Body Worn Video is subject to legal safeguards and complies with national guidance. The video footage is uploaded to secure servers once the officer returns to the station, video that is not retained as evidence or for a policing purpose is automatically deleted within 31 days.
If the public wish to apply for footage taken of them they can apply, in writing, under freedom of information data protection laws. It must be within 31 days, unless it has been marked as policing evidence and is retained.
Alliance Specialist Operations Superintendent Nikki Leaper said: “For too long our equipment has lagged behind the technology almost everyone has in their pockets to capture events as they unfold. This technology enables our firearms officers to be able to record the very challenging circumstances they are asked to deal with on a daily basis and then demonstrate, more effectively, the reality of policing. It provides an opportunity for enhanced evidence capture and supports transparency trust and confidence in the police.”
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: "This helps keep both the officers and public safer. The evidence captured via body worn cameras will allow better protection for our officers and provide a better understanding of decisions made under pressure. They will also ensure that standards are kept high, and protocols followed, in more extreme circumstances – again benefiting our communities.”