Body-worn video cameras

Our officers have access to body-worn video (BWV) technology and officers on patrol routinely wear BWV camera units attached to their uniforms. They will always be worn overtly, are marked CCTV, and may be switched on at the scene of an incident or to record an encounter with a member of the public. The BWV cameras in use are capable of capturing both moving images and audio information. They provide a transparent and accurate account of events and officer-public interactions.

Experience of using BWV cameras has shown that they are useful at helping diffuse confrontational situations and they have provided a reliable version of events, protecting officers from false allegations and clarifying any dispute. The use of BWV has also resulted in convictions of those making false allegations against our officers.

The BWV cameras are not used for continuous non-specific use. The principle purpose of the BWV cameras is to film encounters between officers and members of the public and to make a record of that contact. In some circumstances, BWV cameras may also be used to record events as they unfold.

The majority of on-street enforcement actions taken by our patrol officers relate to litter and this is an offence that takes so little time to commit. Such an offence would be missed by activation of a camera at the time the offence started. To record continuously for littering incidents would be indiscriminate and would be contrary to the requirement to minimise collateral intrusion. BWV cameras will be activated in advance of the subsequent encounter with an alleged offender.

For situations where officers are approaching on-going offending, they may activate their BWV camera unit for evidential purposes (observational footage) and continue recording throughout any subsequent interview with a suspected offender. BWV does not replace traditional forms of collecting evidence, such as written statements and interviews.

The use of BWV cameras do not require specific statutory powers.

The taking of photographs, and in its wider sense video or sound recordings, is deemed lawful in a public place (Wood v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2009]).

The benefits to the service have been identified as including a reduction in complaint investigations by providing impartial, accurate evidence; improvement in service delivery and identifying good practice; and (in some cases) improvement in evidence capture, which potentially increases early guilty pleas and therefore reduces officer case preparation and court time.

 

Privacy

The use of this type of technology raises concerns associated with how any information is being captured, processed and retained. The use of BWV by our officers follows an operational policy and privacy impact assessment. The following provides some advice on privacy issues and risk mitigation.

 

Frequently asked questions on privacy

Privacy Issue

Privacy Risk Mitigation

BWV introduces new and additional information technologies that have a substantial potential for privacy intrusion.

The BWV technology will be deployed in an overt manner. All captured data will be processed and managed in compliance with the relevant legislation such as Data Protection Act 2018 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

 

BWV technology allows information to be shared with multiple agencies

 

Any material which is deemed as evidential and part of a criminal case may be shared with HM Courts & Tribunals Service in the context of a prosecution, and/or with police forces and others in the criminal justice system for the purposes of the prevention and detection of crime and the apprehension of offenders. Any sharing of the information outside these parameters is generally not permitted.

 

Is the data processing exempt from legislative privacy protections?

 

No. Data processing and storage is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018.

Are there any additional issues handling BWV footage?

It is policy that designated officers upload footage onto the server in a timely manner and erase the memory of the camera at the earliest practicable opportunity.

 

Will BWV significantly increase the quantity of data captured and processed in respect of that held on any one individual or a wider group?

 

Footage captured via BWV will be associated against particular incidents/crimes/dates and not individuals unless that individual is subsequently prosecuted.

The BWV will not be running continuously.

What are the procedures for dealing with the loss of any BWV devices?

 

Where a device is lost, all possible attempts will be made to identify and notify persons captured on the device. The Council may also notify the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The PR6 BWV models have an in-built encryption feature which therefore mitigates against the severity of the loss because the information held on the device cannot be played on unauthorised devices.

Collateral intrusion is a risk, how will this be handled?

 

Collateral intrusion in this context extends to the capturing of the movements and actions of other persons when this equipment is being used. It is inevitable that in some circumstances this will occur, albeit officers are trained to ensure that, wherever possible, the focus of their activity is on the person the subject of the officer’s attention. In circumstances where members of the public are captured in any video or audio information and they are unrelated to any offence under investigation, attempts will be made protect their identities should the matter be presented to a court and the footage would not be disclosed under a subject access request to any other person.

Is consent required to record an individual?

 

The BWV units are marked CCTV and worn overtly. In addition the officer using the BWV will normally inform the parties concerned that filming is taking place.

There is no requirement to obtain the express consent of the person or persons being filmed since the actions of the Council, in fulfilling a public function and applying the law, are deemed to be lawful.

Filming in a public place is lawful. An officer can make a recording both in public or private premises so long as it is proportionate, legitimate and necessary. An individual being filmed may however make representations to the officer not to film. This will not prevent filming taking place. The decision to film, continue filming or not to film rests with the officer. The officer should make a note of why he or she ceased filming while still with the person.

Officers give consideration to circumstances or environments where a greater degree of privacy would be expected and, where possible, restrict recording to those individuals and areas where it is necessary in order to provide evidence relevant to the incident.

Are recordings permitted in private dwellings?

 

All recordings require a lawful basis in order to justify infringement of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. An officer can make a recording both in public or private premises so long as it is proportionate, legitimate and necessary. An officer at an incident in a private dwelling may therefore use BWV if there is a genuine reason for doings so. Normally use of BWV will take place in a public place.

The officer will be mindful to exercise discretion and recording should only be used when it is relevant to a incident and necessary, and other methods of information gathering would not be as effective. In circumstances where an occupant of a dwelling objects to the recording taking place, but where an incident is on-going or allegations of a criminal nature are being made, officers are recommended to continue with a recording, but explain their reasons for doing so.

Am I entitled to a copy of the footage taken?

 

The footage captured by BWV will in most cases amount to personal data as defined by the Data Protection Act 2018. Data subjects have a right under the Act to be told what personal information an organisation holds about them and to be provided with a copy if requested – commonly referred to as a subject access request. Exemptions apply. Section 15 of, and Schedule 2 to, the Data Protection Act 2018 provides that the rights to restrict processing or object to processing of data, to request erasure of date, or ask for the supply of the data, do not apply to personal data processed for the prevention or detection of crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders.

How long is footage retained?

 

Footage is retained by the Council for six months, or longer if it is being used in a criminal prosecution. Retention periods set by the Attorney General then apply. One of the reasons for the six month period is that prosecutions can take six months to come to court and occasionally, after convictions, details of misrepresentation as to identity come to light. The Council aims to get cases into court within three months.

 

 

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