Police in G District on Monday (June 16) began a pilot scheme to introduce the use of ‘body worn video’ cameras within the PSNI.
The project will be evaluated by the PSNI in partnership with the College of Policing and Cambridge University.
The evaluation will help inform the introduction of the cameras for the entire organisation.
Initially, they will be used by response officers in Foyle, Strabane, Limavady and Magherafelt.
Superintendent Garry Eaton, G District Operations Manager, said the technology potentially offered a number of advantages for police and public alike.
“Officers can wear the cameras on their uniform and use it when they respond to a call or interact with members of the public. These contacts will be captured and can be downloaded and used in evidence where appropriate.
“We believe the cameras will not only help us fight crime and support victims but help us to be more accountable.
“They offer an opportunity to capture events as they happen and to store them so that they can be played back later to support victims and establish facts.
“One of the advantages is the immediacy that the cameras offer. Capturing pictures for example of an assault victim’s injuries and their own words within minutes of police attending is valuable to us.
“They also offer an opportunity for speedier justice. Experience elsewhere has shown that people confronted with visual evidence of wrong-doing may more quickly accept what they have done. That assists us and victims.
“Not only are the cameras useful from an evidence-gathering point of view, but if there is a disagreement between an officer and a member of the public, they can provide information quickly of what actually happened to establish facts. That has to be in both our own and the public’s interest.
“At present, when a disagreement occurs it can come down to one person’s word against another and experience in policing where cameras are used, is that there has been a dramatic drop in the number of complaints against officers.”
As well as the PSNI, a number of services in Great Britain have also begun to deploy the cameras.
He added: “The cameras will normally be attached to an officer’s uniform at chest height. They are small and robust and have been designed for ease of use. Only minimal training is required.
“The cameras can record pictures and sound for up to two and a half hours, but would not normally be on all the time. They can be switched on and off by the user.”
Police in G District have consulted widely with key stakeholders and one of the areas for primary focus will be Domestic Violence Incidents.”