London Cops Begin Body Cameras Trial


Yesterday London's Metropolitan Police began a one-year trial of cameras being worn by police. Five hundred of the Axon Body cameras, which record audio and video, will be attached to the uniforms of officers across 10 of London's 32 boroughs.

London's Metropolitan Police force are implementing the trial after calls for increased transparency in the wake of police shooting of Mark Duggan, which sparked riots across London and other parts of the U.K. in 2011, as well as the force's use of Stop and Search (sort of like a London equivalent of NYC's Stop and Frisk).

The footage from the cameras will be stored for 31 days. Police are required to state when the camera is recording.

According to Metropolitan Police's website, smaller-scale camera trials have resulted in improved evidence and increased transparency. Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that people are more likely to plead guilty if they know that police have been wearing cameras:

Improved evidence and increased transparency have already been achieved thanks to officers wearing the cameras in previous smaller-scale MPS trials. The footage can also demonstrate the professionalism of our officers in the many difficult incidents they face.

Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: "Body-worn video will not only help us fight crime and support victims but help the Met to be more accountable.

"Our experience of using cameras already shows that people are more likely to plead guilty when they know we have captured the incident. That speeds up justice, puts offenders behind bars more quickly and protects potential victims.

"Video captures events in a way that can't be represented on paper in the same detail 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.

"I believe it will also show our officers at their best, dealing with difficult and dangerous situations every day but it will also provide clearer evidence when its been alleged that we got things wrong. That has to be in both our own and the public's interest."

However, the Metropolitan Police also notes that the cameras will be permanently turned on:

The cameras will not be permanently switched on to ensure our interactions with the public are not unnecessarily impeded but members of the public will be informed as soon as practical that they are being recorded.

Earlier this year Reason TV's Paul Detrick sat down with Steve Ward, the CEO and founder of Vievu, a company that makes wearable cameras for cops.