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The pros and cons for law enforcement with body worn cameras

The use of cameras worn on the body is on the rise. In the UK, in less than two years, they have gone from pilot stage usage into the mainstream. Police forces have seen a corresponding rise in charges and convictions, particularly in areas like domestic violence. In the private sector, businesses are recognising that the new technology can protect staff and ease administrative burdens. However, anyone with more than a passing interest will want to understand the pros and cons, particularly for law enforcement.

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Advantages

The driving force behind the use of these cameras was to ease the obtaining of evidence. Witness statements can now be supported by video and audio. The footage may also speed up court proceedings, with defendants more likely to plead guilty in the face of such powerful evidence. Use of the technology has highlighted other advantages, such as de-escalating confrontational situations. Moreover, wearers of cameras are more likely to be mindful of what they say and how they say it. They also gain a substantial measure of protection against false allegations of misconduct.

Disadvantages

Although small, cameras worn on the body are expensive and require maintenance. There are also costs involved in the storage of the data recorded and accessing it in response to any subsequent legal proceedings. Technological issues are another concern, although they can largely be obviated with proper and timely maintenance.

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Anyone who is using a body worn camera must remember to activate it. Although this is done easily via the flicking of a switch, it will not happen automatically or in response to a vocal command. Equally, users must be ready to make judgments as to when it is not appropriate to use the camera or to switch off recording.

Privacy concerns, as highlighted by pressure organisations, are one of the biggest disadvantages. Ensuring that they are correctly addressed is an on-going issue that is of paramount concern to those such as https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/, who sell all types of surveillance equipment, including cameras. The Information Commissioner’s office provides useful and highly relevant guidance.

Weighing up the pros and the cons

Any organisation considering making use of this new technology must conduct its own balancing exercise to confirm that the pros outweigh the cons. In many cases, if appropriate safeguards are implemented, they are likely to do so.