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  1. ITV Report

Warnings over Taser officers' use of cameras

There are calls for police officers who use Tasers to be equipped with cameras or body worn video (BWV) as they're known.

Despite some top officers describing the technology as 'effective' and 'vital' to 21st century policing, a new survey has found a 'complete lack of consistency' among police forces in the deployment of the cameras.

Earlier this year, Devon and Cornwall police announced plans to double the number of officers carrying tasers but say they need to solve a 'data storage problem' before considering a roll out of the cameras.

A Taser being fired (file photo) Credit: PA

In 2013, 32-year-old Andrew Pimlott from Plymouth died after police fired a Taser at him, while he was covered in petrol holding a lit match.

An inquest found the Taser was the most likely cause of the fuel igniting.

Andrew Pimlott died four days after being tasered

Back in July, Avon & Somerset police announced that every frontline officer in the force area would wear a body camera.

2,300 officers will be using the cameras by the end of the year.

The new technology will transform the way the police work, achieve better outcomes and create fewer complaints.

Supporting the police in being open and transparent, the devices will help give a complete tale of events, for example when recording stop and searches or domestic abuse incidents. These body worn cameras will also make a real difference in giving local people more confidence in their policing service.

– Sue Mountstevens, Police and Crime Commissioner, Avon & Somerset Police
All frontline officers from Avon & Somerset Police will be equipped with bodycams by the end of the year (file photo) Credit: PA

The College of Policing said there was "no specific guidance" for issuing armed officers with bodycams, although it did issue advice on BWV use in 2014.

Both the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) have said the use of BWVs is an "operational" decision for each force.

But the chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, said the "complete lack of consistency" across forces should "raise alarm bells."

We need transparency from forces and clear guidance from national bodies, but organisations like the College of Policing are still unable to provide the leadership needed on these difficult issues.

The Home Office must take action to ensure there is a far more co-ordinated national approach to the use of Tasers, which should be treated with the same respect as firearms.

– Keith Vaz MP, *wwcmoscg [A] Name Strap Keith Vaz MP, Home Affairs Select Committee
An example of body worn video Credit: PA

National Police Chiefs' Council deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said the use of Taser and BWV is agreed with chief officers at a national level in England and Wales.

I fully support the use of body worn video, in particular when officers are deployed with Taser, to maximise transparency and accountability. Each police force is operationally independent and this is ultimately a decision for the local chief constable.

– Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner, National Police Chiefs' Council