Cams could be new weapons to fight abuse

Police body camera
Police body camera

BODY-worn video cameras could help put Wigan domestic abusers behind bars, research by Greater Manchester’s Independent Police Ethics Committee has found.

The committee, set up by Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, examined the ethical dilemmas around the police use of body-worn video to gather images and audio that can later be used as evidence. It concluded the technology could help improve the criminal justice journey for domestic abuse victims, by gathering crucial evidence to make it easier and quicker to get a conviction, and relieving the pressure on victims who don’t feel able to attend court.

But there were also concerns the gadget could inflame already volatile situations and that the use of discretion around whether to record or not record could be abused by officers.

Committee chair Bishop of Manchester Rt Revd Dr David Walker said: “The use of body-worn video is a contentious one which raises many ethical questions and dilemmas. It’s clear from our research that the use of body-worn video brings potential benefits to victims of crime, police officers and prosecutors, and could help to reduce crime - providing there are safeguards in place. In particular, we were struck by the views of the women’s group who felt body-worn video could help speed up the justice process and even shock perpetrators to change their behaviour once they see on film the devastating consequences of their abuse.”

Mr Lloyd said: “I welcome the recommendations and will work with the Chief Constable about how best to implement them so that the public can have confidence that the technology is being used in the right way.”