ARMED police in Dorset will soon be able to record incidents they are called to.
Firearms officers in Dorset will be equipped with Body Worn Video (BWV), the force has announced.
Certain front-line officers already carry the new crime-fighting tool, which as well as capturing evidence can help to defuse confrontational situations. They could be beneficial in incidents such as domestic violence and public order.
Dorset Police says today will see the deployment of BWV issued to 270 Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs), across Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police. The roll out of the cameras follows a successful trial and public consultation.
A spokesman said: "The cameras will be issued to all firearms officers and represent a significant development in the use of technology to capture the best evidence for victims, and reduce the likelihood of victims and witnesses having to appear in court if an offender offers an early guilty plea.
"This has proved particularly successful in domestic abuse cases where there has been an increase in earlier guilty pleas from offenders who know their actions have been recorded. "
The spokesman added: "The technology offers greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as behind it. The public can feel reassured during their interactions with the police, whilst demonstrating the professionalism of officers in challenging and contentious interactions.
"The cameras will be attached to the officer's uniform and will not permanently record. This ensures that officers' interactions with the public are not unnecessarily impeded."
All footage recorded with Body Worn Video is subject to legal safeguards and complies with national guidance. The video footage is uploaded to secure servers once the officer returns to the station – video that is not needed is deleted within 31 days.
If the public wish to apply for footage taken of them they can apply under freedom of information data protection laws.
Alliance Specialist Operations Superintendent Nikki Leaper said: “For too long our equipment has lagged behind the technology almost everyone has in their pockets to capture events as they unfold. This technology enables our firearms officers to be able to record the very challenging circumstances they are asked to deal with on a daily basis and then demonstrate, more effectively, the reality of policing. It provides an opportunity for enhanced evidence capture and supports transparency trust and confidence in the police.”
Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: “I welcome this roll out to firearms officers, especially when events nationally show a clear expectation from the public and Government that any police firearms deployment must be video recorded for post-incident scrutiny.
"Body Worn Video offers a fantastic tool to increase the evidence gathering ability of the police and provides a factual record of what an officer has experienced, making the police more transparent and officers’ actions more accountable."