This summer, London’s Metropolitan Police Service (Met) started rolling out updated Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras.
The devices, known as Axon Body 3 (AB3), offer more accurate audio and imaging capability, building on the successful implementation of BWV back in 2016.
The Met is replacing all frontline police officers’ existing devices and a gradual roll-out of around 24,000 new cameras across London has already begun. Officers from the South West and East Area Basic Command Units (BCUs) as well as the Met’s Taskforce have already received their new devices.
Superintendent Jude Beehag-Fisher, from East Area BCU, said having the ability to capture evidential quality video to support officers in their work, enriching the qualitative detail of incidents to support the criminal justice process and providing an independent witness in the case of any complaints, is very welcome.
The Met office anticipates the swapping of cameras will be completed by April 2021.
The new cameras benefit from better performance in low light and additional microphones for clearer audio recording, whilst providing officers with the capacity for faster uploading of evidence and battery charging.
“It is absolutely vital that our police service retains the trust and confidence of the communities it serves,” said Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime. “The roll out of body worn video for all officers in London helps to improve transparency and I am pleased that the Met is rolling out the latest technology to improve the footage captured. All officers have body-worn video cameras so that every Londoner, regardless of background or postcode can feel safe and protected.”
The Met says use of BWV has improved evidence gathering and increased transparency, and the footage has demonstrated the professionalism of its officers in the many difficult incidents they face.
Officers will continue to “dock” the camera at the end of each shift and upload footage. Data is deleted after 31 days, unless required for evidential purposes.
Officers are issued with strict guidance about when cameras are to be used. As with the existing cameras, the new devices will not be permanently recording. Mandatory recording is required when dealing with incidents such as domestic abuse, arrests, use of force and any search of a person, vehicle or premises. Officers will inform members of the public, as soon as practical, that they are being recorded and flashing red lights will still appear in the center of the camera to indicate this.
The AB3 does have a built-in capability to live stream, but this functionality is not currently enabled. However, in the future, following consultation with community representatives and stakeholders, the Met may conduct a small-scale pilot to establish the benefits this functionality could bring, which would allow the user to live stream footage back to a control room, supervisor or specialist officer to help them deal with an incident or provide advice.