Police Federation Annual Conference on Body Cameras
Under the social media banner of #CutsHaveConsequences this year's annual Police Federation conference focused on several key topics including: women in policing, diversity, and police body cameras.
As forces up and down the country face the prospect of a reduction in officers patrolling the streets this year's conference saw Steve White as Police Federation of England and Wales chairman, who said:
“It is a privilege and an honour to be leading the Federation in times of unprecedented change to policing, and to the Federation itself. “Our conference is a fantastic opportunity for politicians, the media and the public to hear first-hand about the issues affecting our 123,000 members and the wider policing family. We will be discussing the impact of cuts and the many challenges that presents for us to deliver a policing service the public want; highlighting the consequences and the danger 17,000 fewer officers’ presents for national resilience.”
Speaking at the conference was Hampshire’s most senior police officer and the national lead for Body Worn Video, Chief Constable Andy Marsh. In a section titled 'The Accountablity Challenge' Marsh discussed the isuues faced by modern police officers in the ever changing landscape of crime prevention.
Appointed Chief Constable of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in February 2013, Andy Marsh built his leadership skills with Avon and Somerset, and Wiltshire, police forces working in operational and detective roles. Andy joined Hampshire in 2010 when he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable, leading operational policing and a programme of change on behalf of the now Head of the College of Policing, Alex Marshall.
Today, crime levels in the county are at their lowest ever levels and Hampshire is one of the best value for money police forces with £55m saved from the public purse to date and a further £25m planned by 2016. Hampshire's overall approach to tackling crime during auesterity has been commeneded as "innovative" by Home Secratary Theresa May. Working with Reveal, body cameras like the RS2-X2 (Below) formed Operation Hyperion's incredible results.
Throughout his career, Mr. Marsh has been leading and creating an environment at work where his officers, police staff and volunteers can flourish. This is a critical part of building trust within communities, a key challenge for police officers at a time when greater transparency and accountability is rightly being demanded by the public.
In January 2014 Marsh was appointed national policing lead for Body Worn Video – high spec cameras carried by police officers which offer the potential to build trust with the public and a more accurate and verifiable digital record of evidence.
The new role recognises the work done to date in Hampshire, where use of this technology is not just cutting edge within Britain but on a par with anywhere in the world.
Scott Ingram, Senior Principal Lawyer with Slater and Gordon, told delegates at the Police Federation conference that the increasing use of body worn video would encourage greater ‘assessment of officers’ decisions in court which put them in a ‘vulnerable position’ if they are prohibited from watching the footage.
He added officers should watch the film first and then deal with the inevitable differences between their perception of events and what is captured on film. This would also ensure the best evidence is achieved in a case.
He also warned that officers prevented from seeing the footage would be ‘naturally cautious’ about the amount of detail they put in their accounts.
Mr Ingram added that allowing officers to watch film footage first would not prevent a thorough investigation.
The Police Federation’s Doug Campbell backed Mr Ingram’s call.
He said: “Our members need confidence in the post incident process. They have to have confidence that they will be treated fairly. It is common sense they can view body worn film footage before making a statement.”