Emergency services support body worn video, survey reveals

Picture: Police officer from Hampshire Constabulary modelling a body worn camera from Reveal Media – 92% of police and 72% of paramedics favour wearing cameras at work

A survey of emergency services professionals in the police and paramedic services, conducted on behalf of the Emergency Services Show has shown strong approval of the use of body worn video cameras and a belief that they offer tangible benefits both to users and to the public.

92% of police officers said they were in favour of body worn cameras being used by police officers across the UK. Among paramedics, 72% were in favour of their colleagues nationally wearing cameras and 92% were in favour of the police wearing them. Of those questioned, a little over a half (56%) of police and a quarter of paramedics (25%) also said they had already had personal experience in using a body-worn camera.

More than two-thirds (68%) of police officers agreed or strongly agreed that body worn cameras made them feel safer while doing their job. At the same time they thought they gave the public greater confidence in the police (72% agreed or strongly agreed with this).

Six in ten (61%) thought body worn video cameras will speed up the justice process. They were a little less convinced that wearing cameras would diffuse potentially violent situations though (44% said they would, but 26% said they wouldn’t).

72% of paramedics also thought cameras would be useful in their work, although their reasons were slightly different.

Police officers cited the independent evidence gathering provided by video as a key benefit and the potential for resolving “his word against mine” situations. They also liked the ability to record the arrest of violent offenders and disorder.

Paramedics saw benefit in video for recording violent patients, or patients who refused treatment as well as saying they offered a form of protection to paramedics working on their own. They also saw the potential to relay information from the field to doctors, helping to speed up diagnosis and potentially life-saving treatment.

Emergency Services professionals were not unduly concerned about the potential invasion of privacy from cameras. 80% of both police officers and paramedics said they didn’t think they were an invasion of their privacy at work, while 81% of police and 74% of paramedics didn’t think they were an invasion of the public’s privacy either.

Two-thirds police officers didn’t believe there was potential for cameras to be misused, although a third thought they could be. However, more than half (53%) of paramedics were concerned about the potential misuse of cameras. 70% of police and 74% of paramedics didn’t believe wearing a camera would hinder them in their work in any way.

“The advancement of technology has allowed Body Worn Video (BWV) to become a realistic proposition for use within the police and other emergency services,” said Sergeant Stuart Murrell of the Metropolitan Police. “BWV greatly assists across a broad spectrum from conviction through to complaint reduction and incident management. BWV is a cost effective independent witness providing a speedier judicial process and peace of mind for the wearer.”

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