Research by Big Brother Watch has found that over half of all UK local councils have provided staff with wearable cameras in order to help them with fining and prosecuting members of the public for a range of offences.
The research found that a surprising 227 (which is more than half) of all UK councils have, at the very least, trialled the use of body-worn video. In total, UK councils have purchased over 3760 cameras for their staff.
Why Do Staff Need Cameras?
Council staff members use these cameras in a myriad of ways. They can provide evidence in parking disputes, litter offences and dog fouling. So far, these cameras have helped councils to successfully fine people for littering or dog fouling, although the hope is that in the long term they act as a deterrent.
What Is a Body Worn Camera?
Body worn cameras, also referred to generally as Body Worn Video or BWV, involve the use of a small gadget that can be worn on the clothing in much the same way as a badge or brooch, but it contains a small video camera. They are generally placed on the chest near the shoulder, as this is the best position to catch action on. Data is transferred wirelessly to a data management software system and can be used to reduce crime and as key evidence. These kinds of cameras have proved popular with police forces, who see a reduction in complaints and even in crime. They have also been reported to be used by teachers to monitor bad behaviour. Pinnacle Response is an example of a UK manufacturer of body-worn video technology (https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/body-worn-cameras) .
Big Brother Watch
Big Brother Watch also found that of these 227 councils, 150 of them did not know if they had carried out a Privacy Impact Assessment. This is a key way to reassure the public that their privacy is being taken into account. Most councils only keep the data for 30 days, however, although Newham Council, which had purchased the most cameras, keeps data for up to 60 days.
Body-worn video technology is certainly here to stay and can be a useful deterrent of crime. It can also provide vital evidence in criminal proceedings.