from our earlier discussion around Black Lives matter, we identified a possible campaign around the police’s use of Body Worn Video.
Since, in the West Midlands in 2020
Police body cams were used in 66% of stop and searches (when mandatory)
yet 98% stop and search reports are signed off as adequate
So a third are signed off without the mandatory body cam evidence
video made from the discussion at our September 2020 delegate meeting
Delegates have had a further discussion and agreed that we believe Body Worn Video (BWV) should record all interactions with the public and other agencies that deal with the police, not at the discretion of officers. We feel that this would make the police more likely to treat the public decently and equitably. It would also be evidence if any officers mistreat or act in a racially biased way.
Our Wolverhampton TUC discussion around #BlackLivesMatter identified that WMP officers have access to the latest body worn video cameras but only use them when they feel the need for the camera to be in use https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/node/3621
Research due to be published Oct 2020 by University of Warwick In collaboration with West Midlands Police, may evidence our claims – The impact of body worn video (BWV) on stop and search in England and Wales. This research will test the hypothesis that BWV can provide greater visibility of stop and search encounters, thereby providing an opportunity to reduce some of the problems associated with stop and search. BWV footage can help us understand why stop and search encounters are racially disproportionate and may have an impact upon the selection of citizens for stop and search. It is suggested that the civilising effect which BWV may have, may encourage officers to conduct stop and searches in a more procedurally just manner, thereby potentially strengthening public confidence in the police and police legitimacy. https://whatworks.college.police.uk/Research/Research-Map/Pages/ResearchProject.aspx?projectid=523
Body Cams have been shown to reduce complaints against police and prove useful in convictions/early pleas, saving money. Use of body-worn cameras sees complaints against police ‘virtually vanish’, Cambridge University study finds https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/use-of-body-worn-cameras-sees-complaints-against-police-virtually-vanish-study-finds
West Midlands Police ‘disproportionately more likely’ to use force against black people (The report also found a black person was 6.7 times more likely to be stopped and searched under Section 60 rules – where an area has been defined for searches.) https://www.policeprofessional.com/news/west-midlands-police-disproportionately-more-likely-to-use-force-against-black-people/
West Midlands 2020 – Despite the force mandating use of body-worn video in all use of force incidents, stop and search, domestic incidents and mental health unit calls; cameras were used in (77%) of documented use of force incidents, and (66%) of stop and searches. https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/black-people-in-west-midlands-four-times-as-likely-to-be-stopped-by-police/ar-BB15yLRt
Testing the effect of BWV in the WMP: Randomised Control Trial in Wolverhampton & Birmingham 2015 link on page to full research https://whatworks.college.police.uk/Research/Research-Map/Pages/ResearchProject.aspx?projectid=363
FOI request re body cams 2020 http://foi.west-midlands.police.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/404A_ATTACHMENT_01.pdf
Police officers should be required to keep their body cameras running during nearly all interactions with the public—including even “consensual” encounters, recommends an article in Columbia University’s Journal of Race & Law. https://thecrimereport.org/2019/05/29/the-body-cam-dilemma-should-cops-ever-push-the-off-button/
College of Policing 2014 advice on use of BWV http://library.college.police.uk/docs/college-of-policing/Body-worn-video-guidance-2014.pdf
Principle 3 “…..Under normal circumstances, officers should not use BWV in private dwellings.”
Principle 4 “The operational use of body-worn video must be proportionate, legitimate and necessary. Compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and Surveillance Camera Code of Practice will ensure the use of BWV is always proportionate, legitimate and necessary. Continuous, non-specific recording is not permitted”
Principle 5 “Use of body-worn video will be incident specific. Officers will use common sense and sound judgement when using body-worn video, in support of the principles of best evidence.”
“The decision to record or not to record an incident rests with the user. However, users should record incidents whenever they invoke a police power.”
Example of police authority procedure https://www.north-wales.police.uk/media/653226/body-worn-video-procedure.pdf
Government (2019) made it compulsory for bailiffs to use BWV. “People in debt will be given greater protection from rogue bailiffs as the government announced the introduction of compulsory body-worn cameras.” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/body-worn-cameras-to-curb-aggressive-bailiffs
IPCC position statement on body worn video https://www.policeconduct.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Documents/Who-we-are/Our-Policies/IPCC_position_statement_on_body_worn_video.pdf
very limited info on west midlands police website https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/your-options/body-worn-video “The video cameras … are constantly capturing the action, … when officers feel they need the camera to be in use, a press of a button will activate the technology and save the previous 30 seconds of visual footage.”
However we must be careful not to sleepwalk into giving the police yet another tool of oppression. Implementing the widespread use of such technology before passing legislation to safeguard privacy interests may, for example, result in storage policies that prevent the footage from being used in the public interest. A number of policies could be implemented to achieve this effect.
For one, officers should not be given discretion over when a camera is and is not recording, to ensure that events cannot be taken out of context. If the body camera agency observes that an officer has been obscuring or otherwise tampering with their body camera, the officer should be disciplined.
Second, control of the videos recorded by these cameras must be retained by a civil, rather than a police body, a “body camera agency,” completely separate from the police force. Individuals who have been recorded by the police should be entitled to obtain any recordings made of them by the police, and without the police being notified.
This agency should not provide the police with any video or metadata collected from body cameras in order to prevent the police from engaging in pervasive surveillance. https://theconversation.com/watching-the-watchers-police-use-of-body-cameras-needs-to-be-monitored-140667
This paper explores the rapid deployment of police body-worn cameras (BWCs) and the subsequent push for the integration of biometric technologies (i.e., facial recognition) into these devices. https://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/surveillance-and-society/article/view/13285