Police chief calls for body-cams for every officer

A police chief in the West Country has called for every officer in his force to be using a body-worn camera within the next year.

The Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police said the public is better protected when officers wear cameras while the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset said complaints against officers dropped significantly since investing in the kit.

Both forces have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on body-worn cameras but senior officers say their use will save money in the long run.

In the Avon and Somerset Force area complaints against officers have halved since they began using body cameras.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh said they save money and time by decreasing unnecessary paperwork and time giving evidence in court.

The force has invested £800,000 in the kit so far and can now record every move and every sound of an incident.

2200 officers have been issues with cameras and a further 300 are available to share.

Many officers say they are now getting convictions they would not have secured without the cameras, most notably in cases of domestic violence.

In the Devon and Cornwall Force area Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has given 270 units to armed officers but wanted to roll them out to all 3000 of his officers.

He said the public will be better served by every officer wearing a camera - something the Police and Crime Commissioner supports.

Body camera with footage being recorded. Credit: PA Images

Arguments against the use of body cameras include infringement on the privacy of both officers and members of the public.

Video data and information could be open to hacks and theft - although any footage not needed has to be wiped within 28 days, the pubic have a right to see anything recorded and footage must be independently scrutinised by a Police and Crime Commissioner.

Officers admit people can change their attitude as soon as cameras are switched on with a front screen showing them what the camera is recording.