As a police officer, on an average shift I tend to wear a range of different bits of kit to help assisting me in achieving my daily goal of punching crime on the nose.
Trousers are a given. I have a radio nattering in my ear, a can of CS spray that hasn’t been used once in four years, a torch, a USB stick for downloading CCTV footage, police-issue ‘bracelets’ and a range of other bits and pieces designed to make the job easier.
All in all and including the stab vest that I wear to prevent an anti-social skewering of my organs, the kit weighs about as much as a very small child, a large cat or some other object of equivalent weight to that of my kit.
Now it may seem strange that considering the less than pleasant experience of wearing all of the above on a hot day, I’d be keen to have another gizmo to carry but there is something that I’m keen to be issued that I don’t yet carry.
To quote the Gadget Show, the ‘tech’ I’m interested in is a body worn camera, a subject that I’ve visited before after the story last year about someone wearing an unfashionable pair of Google Glasses witnessing an assault.
Their issue to officers has been in the news again recently in light of the Mark Duggan inquest with the Met suggesting that they’d be worn by their firearms units to help boost transparency.
This can only be a good thing and similar steps have been taken by other forces with Hampshire Constabulary now using them as standard issue and trials of badge type devices being ran in Birmingham and as I understand it, to be extended to other areas of the Midlands too.
I think the feeling amongst many officers is that they’d be supportive of their use as the evidence that they gather is mutually beneficial to both the officers and the public.
For officers, they’d help cut down allegations of misconduct and incivility as interactions would be documented and there’d be no disputing who did what and who said what following incidents.
For the public, they help gather strong, valuable evidence that can be presented to the courts and the benefit of this would likely be fewer not guilty pleas and time saved for both police and the courts accordingly.
Now their introduction wouldn’t be cheap – the bill in Hampshire alone was over quarter of a million pounds – but as an investment considering the potential for future savings and not to mention the public reassurance associated with the transparency that they’d provide, I’m argue that this is worth the cost.
Us officers are proud of the job we do, we want to do that job to the highest quality we can and contrary to what some people might think, the handful of untrustworthy examples brought to light in recent news stories do not represent the other 99% of us.
I’d like to see officers wearing cameras as standard as I know that by doing so, they’d prove what I’ve said above is correct.
P.S. BBC-style disclaimer – Above video used as an example of how the cameras are used only, other brands of camera are available and I’ve no intention of endorsing this camera over any other that is available now, will be available in the future or that could have been brought a hundred years ago when photography was more exciting with hoods and explosive powder.