The use of video evidence is becoming more prolific with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) requesting forces across the country implement the technology. This will be a positive step but it is vital to ensure these videos are used in a consistent manner to maximise the benefits and avoid any possibility of manipulation.
A beneficial technology
This technology is anticipated to be invaluable in cases of domestic abuse. Initial accounts could be taken from all involved when responding to emergency calls and there could be footage of any injuries. This sort of strong evidence has perhaps been lacking in the past when cases are submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Video evidence would also be vital in providing an independent view in situations that have historically lacked this, such as officers causing injury by using excessive force. Cases of this sort can easily become disputed with victims feeling like the police force are protecting themselves if an officers conduct is questioned. Video evidence could be essential in establishing the truth, whether that is an officer’s misconduct or if it exonerates them from accusations of wrongdoing.
The use of a body worn camera, such as https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/ has been shown to calm potentially volatile situations and minimise any allegations against police officers, as reported by the BBC. The Metropolitan Police trialled devices and the findings, published by The College of Policing, showed a 33% decrease in accusations against officers, whilst there was no negative effect on safety. Officers will announce they are wearing a camera and this warning is thought to help calm a situation that is threatening to escalate out of control.
Policy for consistent use
It is crucial there are clear guidelines drawn up and followed for when cameras should be used. Without explicit policy, officers may decide not to use the video recording devices in situations where allegations are subsequently made against them. This decision would itself lead to further questions, but without direct guidelines, officers may not be held accountable and the use of video evidence, in general, could be jeopardised.
Body worn cameras must be used consistently. Police officers must understand when video footage should be taken so it can be used effectively. If body worn cameras are used in an intelligent manner following clear guidelines, the evidence they provide could be almost impossible to dispute.