£10 million investment will lead to all frontline officers in the capital having the cameras by summer 2017
London’s Metropolitan Police Service has announced what it claims is the the world’s largest ever rollout of body-worn video cameras to frontline officers.
Once completed next summer, thanks to a £10 million investment, that means London will be the city with the largest number of officers equipped with such technology of any force in the world.
Some 22,000 cameras are being issued to all the force’s neighbourhood and response officers, with Lewisham chosen as the first of the 32 boroughs, all of which will eventually be included. Cameras have also been fitted to the Met’s prison vans, says the force.
Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn hailed the move as immediately bringing the capital’s police “into the 21st century”, while also promoting “more transparency and accountability”.
“The cameras will support our officers in the many challenging situations they have to deal with, at the same time as building the public’s confidence,” added Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
“What we do every day will be seen by the public - that has to be good. This is a vital piece in the chain to make sure what we do is transparent. “
I hope this will lead to the principal of policing by consent being more meaningful,” Kahn added at the launch even in London.
“By its nature, police need public confidence to move forward. The more confidence that the police have from the public, the safer our streets will be.”
Hogan-Howe’s team claimed a pilot had already proved successful in bringing about speedier justice for victims, and have been particularly successful in domestic abuse cases.
The Met is also claiming an increase in earlier guilty pleas from offenders who know their actions have been recorded by the devices, which are about the size of a cigarette packet.
The cameras, from a supplier called Axon, will be attached to an officer’s uniform and will record only when activated. Footage will be automatically uploaded to secure servers once the device has been docked, and flagged for use as evidence at court or other proceedings.
Members of the public will be told as soon as practical that they are being recorded, and when the camera is recording it is flagged as doing so by flashing and a frequent beeping noise.
Video not retained as evidence or another policing purpose will be automatically deleted within 31 days, added the Met, which also promised citizens will be able to apply for any footage under Freedom of Information legislation.
Image from Axon