Body Worn Video
Numerous Trials and Studies of Body Worn Video systems (BWV) have taken place over the past years that have produced a number of headline benefits backed up by statistics, surveys and questionnaire results.
The Proven main benefits of body worn video technology are;
- Enhanced Staff Safety and Employers Duty of Care.
- Reduced Complaints
- Enhanced Staff Professionalism
Reduced staff safety incidents (members of the public are far less likely to behave in an abusive / aggressive manner if they know they are being recorded). Anecdotal evidence has shown that wearers of BWV systems regard them as a deterrent thus reducing the likelihood of physical harm and resulting mental stress as a result of being involved in an incident.
However in a recent (last week) distressing case a Civil Parking Enforcement Officer (CEO) was both verbally and physically attacked by a member of the Public. The entire ‘exchange’ was recorded with an Audax Chest Camera and within a matter of hours, the evidence downloaded and provided to the Police. This evidence was ‘enough’ to enable an arrest to be made and the ‘offender’ charged.
The use of BWV can dramatically enhance the gathering of evidence. The camera can ‘pick up’ and record everything an officer sees and hears, including details officers could never hope to recall when trying to document events on paper in a statement. The video and audio data provide an officer’s view of how an incident unfolded, who said what, and what decisions were made at the time. BWV footage has also been used to disprove malicious complaints against officers. There have been examples of ‘VICTIMS’ making complaints and then immediately withdrawing those complaints after reviewing the footage.
BWV evidence has been used in courts to show exactly what happened at an incident. A prepared statement can come across as very clinical and does not convey the emotions and atmosphere at the time an officer interacted with an offender.
However there are a number of key points that a BWV system must have to separate the ‘real’ evidential BWV devices from the ‘also ran’. Before you ‘part with your money’ or that of your organisations, check that your preferred product is fit for purpose:
- Metadata, comprising a frame counter, device ID and date/time must be displayed on the recordings in a legible manner.
- No device should allow recordings to be edited or deleted whilst on the device
- The device should not be directly accessible by connecting to a standard PC. A password protection mechanism should be in place to prevent casual access to device settings and/or configuration of the device.
- Select a device with fixed memory. Removable memory e.g. SD card, micro SDHC card is used by numerous devices - it is not secure as it can be reformatted without any controls.
- Interoperability and replay on third-party systems, using standard software (e.g. VLC Media Player), are essential. Data formats that can only be viewed within manufacturer-specific replay software are not acceptable.
- Check that the video output is in a non-proprietary format and not tied to the manufacturers back office software.
- Rechargeable and replaceable batteries are essential and should last at least 8 hours without the need to attach additional battery packs.
Also consider the options of having:
Pre-event recording / Still image (Snap Shot) camera button, and IR for night time use. Live Video Streaming (via 3G / 4G or Wi-Fi) from a BWV system to a command centre will undoubtedly assist in incident management and situational awareness / Command & Control is also worth considering.
Put simply, a picture paints a thousand words, and visualisation of incidents can aid communication and information gathering across all partner agencies as well as having a direct impact on criminal activity. The possibilities are endless but ensure you have a product that is fit for purpose.