Police Turn to Body Worn Video to Report Officer Assault
This article was originally posted on Leicester Mercury, you can read the full article here.
Police officers are turning to body worn video to report assaults against them.
Body worn video has contributed to an increase in reported assaults against officers, meaning fewer undocumented cases and an increase in prosecutions of those who are abusive towards officers. The overall result is justice for officers who work tirelessly on the front-line of policing.
The Leicestershire Police Federation reported that, in the year to the end of March 2016, over 300 Leicestershire officers and staff had been assaulted.
“We are seeing a surge in assaults on police officers and staff,” said Chairman Tiff Lynch, commenting after three officers were injured in alleged assaults over the period of one weekend in January 2017. One officer suffered a broken wrist.
"Of course, officers accept that they work in a role that will see them dealing with people who are agitated, distressed or confused.
"But police officers are not there to act as punch bag for members of the public and if someone strikes a police officer, spits at them, scratches them or assaults them in any way they should expect a harsh sentence from the courts,” said Tiff Lynch.
Body worn video is helping to stop officer assault being viewed as an occupational hazard, and working to safeguard officers dealing with potentially hostile situations. A study conducted at Cambridge University associated body worn video with a 15% increase in reported assaults on officers, giving officers increased confidence and support in prosecuting the offenders.
"An attack on a police officer should be seen as an attack on society," said Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax. Holly Lynch is leading a national Police Federation campaign calling for tougher sentencing for those who assault police officers, police staff and other emergency service personnel.
In 2015, Reveal’s body worn video cameras captured a ‘shocking and brutal’ attack on a female police officer from Hampshire Constabulary. Sergeant Kerry Lawrence was attacked by a male, named Craig Radbourne, while arresting him for alcohol related offences. Radbourne pushed Sergeant Lawrence and then repeatedly hit her head against the pavement.
Radbourne, who had no history of violence, was sentenced to 36 months in prison, with half to be served on licence.
Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire said: ‘When Sergeant Kerry Lawrence attended a suspected break-in involving Craig Radbourne, she was simply doing her job as a neighbourhood police officer providing the service that the majority of the public want.
As many police officers do on a daily basis, she put herself between the offender and a member of public - risking her own welfare. As a result she suffered a horrendous attack by Mr Radbourne - all of which was captured on body worn video.
"Through this footage, the judges were able to see for themselves the aggravated abuse that Kerry suffered."
Reveal’s body cameras also helped to sentence a man guilty of a violent hammer attack on two West Sussex Police officers earlier this year.
The footage from Reveal’s body camera is securely stored on Digital Evidence Management Software (DEMS), where it can be also be shared internally across departments or externally, such as to the relevant legal body, in the case of a criminal proceeding. The footage can then be used in court and as a result, judges, juries and other relevant parties can see the incident first-hand, from the perspective of the body camera.
To find out more about how body worn video could protect your officers and staff please click here.