With body-worn cameras set to be harnessed by all frontline Metropolitan Police officers, some fear the move will be unnecessarily intrusive and undermine civil liberties. Opponents of the move say body-worn cameras could support the perception that power favours the police - not the public they are supposed to protect. But backers of the move say it helps hold police officers to account by giving greater transparency to their dealings with the public. This week, we ask: Should all frontline officers wear body cameras on their uniforms?
Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime
London is leading the world in adopting the use of body-worn cameras for all frontline officers. In the world's largest trial of body-worn cameras, currently taking place across London, the cameras have proved a big help to police as they fight crime, and are boosting public confidence. The evidence they collect helps reduce complaints, increases the number of early guilty pleas, and speeds up the justice process.
The mayor of London and Met commissioner have confirmed plans for all neighbourhood and response officers across the Met to start using the cameras, with around 20,000 due to arrive in London by the end of March 2016. This will make the technology available to more officers in a single city than anywhere else in the world. Feedback from officers who have used the cameras shows they are extremely valuable in boosting trust between police and the public.
It has particularly helped when police behaviour is under scrutiny, for example with Stop and Search. Wherever possible, officers tell the public cameras are in use, and this tends to improve the behaviour of all involved. In cases where early evidence and victim testimony is critical, such as domestic abuse, the camera footage is also proving invaluable. Cameras are also collecting more information on the impact of crime on victims, and aid the development and training of officers.
In coming months, we'll be talking to every London community to explain how the cameras will work and when they can expect to see them being used. This new technology, made possible with funds raised by the sale of underused police buildings, is essential to build trust, help the police do their jobs, and, crucially, allow the public to hold officers to account.