More police officers patrolling the county’s town centres will be using state-of the-art body cameras than ever before thanks to the purchase of 500 of them.
The cameras record in High Definition and have proved effective in being an extra pair of eyes and ears for officers dealing with challenging situations such as alcohol-fuelled disorder and domestic violence.
The cameras can obtain evidence of incidents such as a fight taking place, people being abusive to officers or other members of the public, a crime scene and a victim’s injuries suffered during an assault.
The cameras can be clearly seen on officers clothing and there is already evidence that they are diffusing potentially violent or confrontational situations before they escalate.
Superintendent Mark Wiggins, who has responsibility for Liverpool city centre, said the body-cams were fast becoming a vital tool for officers keeping Merseyside’s night-time economy areas safe.
He said: “With office party season in full swing across Merseyside, we want people to be able to go out and have an enjoyable time in a safe environment across Merseyside, but ensure they act responsibly while doing so. Liverpool is already one of the safest cities in the country and has achieved national recognition of this with purple flag status.
“However, inevitably a minority of people will let themselves down by drinking too much and getting involved in an anti-social or violent incident.
“This can range from someone urinating in the street to a serious assault but either way, it is not the sort of behaviour that late night shoppers, shop staff, bar workers or other, law-abiding members of the public want to see.
“Our increased use of body-cams will help us tackle these problems. We make it clear to people when officers are filming them and we have found already that some people start to behave themselves when we point this out to them. This means we are doing everything possible to avoid confrontation and to calm potentially volatile situations without having to arrest people unless it is necessary.
“Additionally some people think they can dispute their poor behaviour but when they are shown the footage from the body cams once in custody, they generally admit the offence.
“It also deters the small minority of people who try to make malicious complaints against the police as officers’ behaviour is captured in full as well as the offender’s.
“This all adds up to the police dealing with incidents more quickly and effectively, allowing our resources to remain on the streets, which is where the public want us, reducing confrontation and gathering the best possible evidence against those who do need to be dealt with by the courts.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Body worn cameras are rapidly becoming a key part of frontline policing.
“By securing this funding, the Force are now equipped with 500 extra cameras that will be used throughout the region during the busy Christmas period. Not only do they provide a deterrent against abusive and anti-social behaviour, they are also a vital tool in helping the police gather evidence and secure guilty pleas and convictions.
“The reaction of some individuals on seeing their behaviour on tape after the incident, often when they have sobered up, can be astonishing.
“Using these cameras speeds up justice, puts offenders behind bars more quickly and protects potential victims. It also demonstrates the dangerous and difficult job Merseyside Police officers day in day out serving the public.”
Officers wearing the body-cams this Christmas include:
- City Plan officers patrolling Liverpool city centre
- Neighbourhood response
- Roads Policing unit
- Matrix Serious Organised Crime (MSOC)
- Dog patrols and Mounted section
All officers using them have received extensive training in how and when to use them. Officers wear the cameras overtly on their body armour and must point out to people that they are being filmed.
The footage is impossible to edit by the wearer and downloads immediately to a secure and restricted network for evidential purposes. In doing so, the individual camera’s memory is cleared and the camera can be used again.
For more information about the technology itself visit www.revealmedia.com
The 500 cameras have been bought using funding from the Home Office and Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
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