The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is taking a global lead with what is thought to be the largest rollout of body-worn cameras by police anywhere in the world to enhance the service it gives to London.
The large-scale deployment of Body Worn Video (BWV), which is being issued to over 22,000 Met frontline officers, commenced on 17 October. Over the coming months, cameras will be issued to all 32 boroughs and a number of frontline specialist roles, including overt firearms officers.
All footage recorded on BWV is subject to legal safeguards and guidance. The footage from the Axon Body Camera is automatically uploaded to secure servers once the device has been docked, and flagged for use as evidence at court or other proceedings. Video not retained as evidence or for a policing purpose is automatically deleted within 31 days.
The cameras will be worn attached to the officer’s uniform and will not be permanently recording. This ensures that officers’ interactions with the public are not unnecessarily impeded. Members of the public will be told as soon as practical that they are being recorded and when the camera is recording, it is highly visibly – notable by a flashing red circle in the centre of the camera and a frequent beeping noise when the camera is activated.
Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was joined in Lewisham by the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, to witness the rollout of the cameras, which follows a successful trial and wide-ranging public consultation and academic evaluation.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said, “Body Worn Video will support our officers in the many challenging situations they have to deal with, at the same time as building the public’s confidence. What we do every day will be seen by the public – that has to be good!
“Our experience of using cameras already shows that people are more likely to plead guilty when they know we have captured the incident on a camera. That then speeds up justice, puts offenders behind bars more quickly and most importantly protects potential victims.
“Video captures events in a way that can’t be represented on paper in the same detail, a picture paints a thousand words, and it has been shown the mere presence of this type of video can often defuse potentially violent situations without the need for force to be used.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, “Body Worn Video is a huge step forward in bringing our capital’s police force into the 21st Century and encouraging trust and confidence in community policing. This technology is already helping drive down complaints against officers and making them more accountable, as well as helping to gather better evidence for swifter justice. As we roll them out across London, these cameras will make a real difference to officers, as they continue their great work on the frontline fighting crime and keeping our city safe.”
Managing Director of Axon Public Safety UK, Matt Spencer, said, “We’re thrilled to be working alongside the Metropolitan Police Service to ensure a successful body camera rollout. By utilising the Axon network, MPS will be taking advantage of cutting-edge technology that will help them take on the challenges of 21st century policing.”
The deployment of all 22,000 cameras will be managed in a phased approached and is anticipated to be complete by next summer.
In November 2015, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), following a successful trial awarded a three-year contract worth £3.4m to Axon Public Safety UK Limited, to supply the MPS with 22,000 cameras.