Body cam­eras given the green light af­ter tri­als

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Police In The Spotlight - By Paul Fran­cis

Ev­ery front­line po­lice of­fi­cer in Kent is to be equipped with body cam­eras un­der a £1.8m ini­tia­tive, the Force has con­firmed.

Tri­als of body cam­eras have proved suc­cess­ful in Maid­stone, Med­way and Thanet, where 400 cam­eras have been in use. The scheme will now be ex­tended to ev­ery other area with a fur­ther 1,600 cam­eras.

Ann Barnes, the Kent po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner, said she ex­pected ev­ery front­line of­fi­cer would be go­ing out on pa­trol with cam­eras by the end of next March. There was a sound busi­ness case for the scheme, she said.

“Us­ing cam­eras helps mod­ify of­fender be­hav­iour and po­lice be­hav­iour. It helps col­lect ev­i­dence that can be used in court; there have been more first-time guilty pleas be­cause you can­not ar­gue about your be­hav­iour if it is in front of you on a screen, so it has a real knock-on ef­fect through the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.”

Sean Nolan, the chief fi­nance of­fi­cer to the com­mis­sioner, said there were two im­por­tant ad­van- tages. “It will re­duce the num­ber of ma­li­cious com­plaints against of­fi­cers, which take up a lot of time and un­der­mine morale. We also think it will re­duce phys­i­cal harm and in­jury to of­fi­cers. If some­one is to take on a po­lice of­fi­cer, they are much less likely to do so if they are be­ing filmed.”

The scheme will be funded through money the Force has made by selling off land and build­ings.

“We did bid for gov­ern­ment fund­ing but un­for­tu­nately we were not suc­cess­ful. Ac­tu­ally we think the sav­ings in of­fi­cer time means we will pay for this within two years.”

The state-of-the-art cam­eras will help po­lice cap­ture ev­i­dence dur­ing crime scenes.

On data pro­tec­tion, the Force said it would fol­low proper pro­to­cols on the re­ten­tion of footage and its dele­tion.

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