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Thousands Of London Police Get Wearable Video Cameras

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The body-worn video cameras are to be rolled out to 22,000 officers across London’s 32 boroughs

Thousands of frontline Metropolitan Police officers are due to be outfitted with body-worn cameras beginning this week.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime awarded a three-year contract worth £3.4 million to Taser International’s Axon Public Safety UK for 22,000 cameras last year and the devices began a phased rollout on Monday.

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‘Largest’ rollout

The cameras are to be rolled out across London’s 32 boroughs to frontline specialist roles, including overt firearms officers, with deployment set for completion next summer.

Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe launched the programme in Lewisham yesterday with London mayor Sadiq Khan following a public consultation and an academic evaluation. The devices were initially trialled in 10 London boroughs in 2014 and have also been used by other forces, including Bedfordshire police.

The Met said it is the largest rollout of its kind by police anywhere in the world.

“The technology offers greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as behind it,” the Met said. “Londoners can feel reassured during their interactions with the police, whilst allowing us to demonstrate the professionalism of our officers in their many challenging and contentious interactions, such as the use of stop and search.”

Wearable Security

The devices are worn at the front of the uniform and when they are recording they emit a frequent beeping noise and display a flashing red circle in the centre of the device. Officers are also required to tell members of the public they are being recorded “as soon as practical”.

When docked the footage recorded is automatically uploaded to secure servers and flagged for use as evidence. If it isn’t retained for such purposes it is automatically deleted within 31 days, the Met said.

Up until the time it is deleted the public can request to view footage taken of them with a written freedom of information request.

The Met insisted the servers used to store the footage are “secure” but the programme is likely to raise concern over any possible leak of such data, given the increasingly damaging breaches affecting both public and private-sector organisations.

Faster justice

“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,” Sir Hogan-Howe said in a statement. “That then speeds up justice, puts offenders behind bars more quickly and most importantly protects potential victims.”

Khan said the devices would encourage “trust and confidence in community policing” and help drive down complaints against officers.

Last month a University of Cambridge study found a 93 percent decrease in complaints made against officers clearly wearing body cameras.

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