International Women’s Day 2017: Body Cameras Help in Domestic Abuse Prosecutions
This article was originally posted on the Crown Prosecution Service website, you can read it here.
Recent prosecutions have revealed that body worn video helps in domestic abuse cases. The footage from police body cams has been essential in convicting domestic abusers, providing evidence when victims are unable to do so.
The Crown Prosecution Service reported that domestic abuse prosecutions rose from the year 2014-2015, to the year 2015-2916, from 92,779 to 100,930 cases – the highest volume of domestic abuse prosecutions ever recorded.
The National Police Chiefs' Council Lead on Domestic Abuse, Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe, said: "While domestic abuse can affect anyone, from any walk of life, we know that women and girls are more likely to be victims and often experience abuse differently. In England and Wales over 26% of women have suffered domestic abuse since the age of 16, equating to an estimated 4.3 million female victims.
"Body worn video is helping the police to gather evidence at the scene and bring offenders to justice. It is one of the many ways in which we are supporting the most vulnerable and improving our response to domestic abuse."
With domestic abuse prosecutions rising, it is important that enough substantial evidence is available to the legal systems to convict domestic abusers.
Due to the sensitive nature of domestic abuse - many cases involving spouses and familial relations - some domestic abuse victims feel unable to give evidence in court for numerous reasons.
The introduction of body worn video has meant that juries can view, first-hand, the initial impact of a domestic abuse crime.
The Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP said: "The government recently announced its plans to make changes that will transform the way we think about and tackle domestic violence and abuse. Independent prosecutors and government are working together so that we can hold more offenders to account.
"People who commit domestic violence deliberately attack their partners behind closed doors so as to leave as little evidence as possible. Victims can often feel as though it's one word against another. Cameras worn by the police upon entry to the property can help bring prosecutions when no other evidence exists, securing justice for victims."
When an officer is called to the scene of a domestic abuse crime, he/she will notify the parties that the body camera is activated and record evidential footage. This could include the physical or mental state of the victim, the aggression of the alleged domestic abuser, or any other circumstance that the officer deems important.
The Crown Prosecution Service has been working collaboratively with the Joint National Police Chief Council to ensure that police and prosecuting forces are collating all forms of evidence possible against domestic abusers, in support of victims. In addition to body worn video, data from social media, wifi signals and mobile phones can also be used in a prosecution against a domestic abuser.
Lauren Costello, who leads on Domestic Abuse in CPS Mersey-Cheshire said: "Body worn video footage is making a huge difference in domestic abuse cases. It means we have so much more evidence from the scene, rather than simply the police officer's statement.”
This footage can then be securely stored on a system such as Reveal’s Digital Evidence Management Software (DEMS) are shared to the relevant court. The jury are then able to view the footage as evidence of the crime, without the victim having to give evidence.
A recent example of this occurred in South London, where the Crown Prosecution Service reports that Ansu Jallow, 43, is due to be sentenced for two counts of assault, after he attacked two victims.
Jallow’s victims spoke to police equipped with body worn video immediately after the incident at their home, but, understandably, later felt unable to give evidence in court.
Magistrates viewed the footage and convicted Jallow of domestic abuse crimes.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders said: "The CPS is prosecuting more cases of domestic abuse than ever before.
"On International Women's Day it is great to see how new technology is helping prosecutors to bring domestic abuse offenders to justice. We continually seek new and innovative ways to find the evidence to prosecute cases in court."