Body-Worn Police Cameras: The Effects
A study into assaults on police and use of force by police in relation to the wearing of body-worn cameras (BWC) has thrown up some interesting results. Are body-worn cameras here to stay for our police forces, and should they be used to protect the police or the public, or perhaps both?
The study in question was carried out by RAND Europe in collaboration with Cambridge University and US and UK police forces. The study looks at the use of Body Worn Camera technology within UK and US police forces, examining both assaults on police officers and force used by officers.
Assaults on Police Officers
Assaults on police officers go up by 15% when they are wearing body-worn cameras. This result is most probably due to an increase in reporting. Police officers are thought to be much more likely to report an assault against themselves when they know they have the evidence to back it up. Despite the apparent increase in assaults, the cameras have arguably helped more officers feel enabled to report such a crime.
Use of Force by Police Officers
The amount of force police officers used against suspects was largely unchanged. But what was interesting is that for officers who were able to turn their cameras on and off at will, reported use of force went up. Officers who left cameras on for the duration of a shift, however, used less force. So compulsory use of cameras that remain on will certainly protect the public rather than allowing officers to turn them on and off at will.
Safer for All
The use of Body Worn Cameras by police officers such as those in the Met must be substantiated by positive results. Police forces also need to be aware of current legislation (https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/legislation). According to these results, officers certainly feel more emboldened to report assaults, although this hasn’t reduced the number of assaults as yet.
Public safety is increased only when officers leave cameras on at all times, which could also help provide evidence when false accusations are made against them.
The use of BWCs in UK police forces is likely to rise, as we have seen in councils across the UK too. These cameras have been proven to increase both the safety of the public and that of police officers when used correctly.