Stafford and Stone police officers are now using body cams in a scheme funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis. Staffordshire Police is believed to be the first force in the UK to have body-worn video cameras for all frontline officers.
They have now been rolled out across the force area following a successful pilot by Newcastle-under-Lyme Local Policing Team. The cameras were commissioned by Mr Ellis as part of a major investment in new technology. They are designed to provide vital visual evidence in key investigations and improve transparency when dealing with the public. They also act as a deterrent when dealing with offenders and can be invaluable in instances where there are complaints against officers.
The cameras will also lead to efficiencies and savings at court through the use of video evidence instead of thousands of written words – cutting paperwork and getting officers back on the streets. The scheme is providing 530 new cameras at police bases – enough for every frontline officer, PCSO and Special Constable on duty at any one time. It allows officers at the touch of a button to record video and audio at crime scenes, including low-light situations, which can then be played directly in court as evidence.
Mr Ellis said: “This is part of a major technology plan to free up officer time and create thousands of extra hours of visible policing. “Body cams will revolutionise evidence gathering and help ensure complaints are dealt with more efficiently and cost effectively
“They are part of rigorous efforts to ensure everything that’s done is open, honest and transparent so that public confidence across policing and criminal justice is improved. The advantage of having these cameras is that they start to remove any doubts as to what happened because it’s caught on film, ensuring openness and transparency in policing. “They will help officers get the best possible evidence, they will protect people who are being arrested and will save a vast amount of time by providing pictorial evidence in court.”
Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: “Our officers have welcomed the introduction of body worn video and are able to use this equipment to help them deliver an outstanding service to victims of crime in Staffordshire. “It means we are able capture video evidence from our arrival at an incident, and these videos show an accurate record of what has happened.
“Courts are now be able see first-hand exactly what an offence looked like on the particular day in question which ultimately means better support for victims and improves our ability to bring offenders to justice.” Specialist officers in tactical roles, such as road crime and the dog unit, are receiving body cams in the final phase of the roll-out.