Vest cams for Weston police

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 March 2016

Archant

Police across North Somerset will soon wear chest-mounted video cameras in a move designed to keep officers safe and boost public confidence in the service.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has been piloting the use of cameras – which are equipped with both video and audio recording capabilities – in areas of its patch, but has now decided to roll out the kit across the entire force area.

The idea is that the cameras record police interactions with the public, and their footage can later be used as evidence in criminal prosecutions, or even to help investigate people’s complaints about officer conduct.

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Andy Marsh – who has been a national lead on establishing best practice for police use of the technology – both believe the roll-out is a positive step.

Ms Mountstevens said: “I feel employing this new technology will achieve better outcomes, create fewer complaints and give local people more confidence in their policing service.

“They (the cameras) are crucial in transforming the way the police work, not only acting as a tool to support officers, but also ensuring the local communities of Avon and Somerset are safe and feel safe.”

And Chief Constable Marsh said this week: “I want to equip officers and staff with technology that helps keep them safe and provide a high quality service to the public.

“I have seen body-worn video help gather evidence effectively, especially at incidents such as domestic abuse. It can encourage people to be more open in interviews and plead guilty earlier.

“It can also professionalise the work of the police through openness and transparency. This represents a very significant step forward for the force.”

Data Protection Act rules mean officers must clearly inform a person if they are being recorded on body-worn cameras for evidence purposes.

However, public surveys carried out after a previous trial revealed 92 per cent of people believed the cameras help to improve police accountability.

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