The main purpose of the cameras is to capture video and audio evidence, with the aim of supporting vulnerable victims, assisting prosecutions and to demonstrate transparency around police activity.
In addition, it is about helping magistrates and courts look at sentencing outcomes. A victim or Police Officer statement paints a picture, but video footage shows the real impact a crime can have on victims as well as a suspect’s behaviour.
Cameras are worn attached to the officer's uniform (usually on the chest) and are called Body worn Cameras, but specialist officers, such as those in the Firearms Command will wear Flex cameras attached to their headwear.
The use of Body Worn Video (BWV) has been subject to extensive academic evaluation. We have monitored BWV use during the course of a year long pilot and have listened to the issues Londoners have told us, matter to them - Checks of stop and search encounters and incidents of domestic abuse during the pilot show that officers are complying with this operational guidance effectively.
We offer extensive guidance and training in respect of Body Worn Video (BWV) to our officers. The MPS guidance has been in the public domain for quite some time and we are absolutely committed to ensuring that officers on the ground are using the equipment appropriately and in accordance with guidance. Officers have been trained in both the processes involved in adhering to our policy on the retention of footage, and how/when to use cameras. Officers will explain their use of BWV and the duration that footage is kept where possible. Officers are not issued with cameras until they have been trained.
All officers who have regular engagement with the public will be issued with cameras and other officers will be able to access cameras on an ‘as needed’ basis.
The Metropolitan Police Service is in the process of rolling out Body Worn Video (BWV) to all front line officers and specialist commands. This will be the largest roll out globally with some 22,000 cameras.
The project deployment of this scale is being managed in a phased approach. Officers are expected to start using the first of the new cameras in October 2016. With completion by next summer.
No - the use of BWV will be 'incident specific'. An officer will switch it on to capture a specific incident and stop filming when it’s no longer necessary or proportionate.
It will not be used to film Londoners indiscriminately.
The MPS has identified a range of situations when it expects officers wearing body worn cameras to have them switched on to capture evidence or where it’s necessary for a policing purpose.
The camera records a rolling 30 second loop of film in standby mode so when a recording starts the previous 30 seconds are always captured. There is no audio on this previous 30 seconds however until the recording begins.
Police must inform people that they are being filmed under data protection legislation. An officer should clearly state when a recording starts and ends, unless the situation means it is not possible to do so. When recording the cameras have a flashing red circle in the centre and make a regular loud beep.
The camera records onto a hard drive. Footage is uploaded to secure servers for use as evidence at court or other proceedings. Film not categorised as evidence is auto-deleted within 31 days. Retained footage is subject to regular review (in line with guidance from the Information Commissioner). Footage will be kept as evidence, for disclosure, or for other legitimate policing purpose as defined in Management of Police Information. Footage will not be kept for intelligence.
The MPS are the data controllers in respect of footage recorded on MPS body worn video cameras.
Officers don’t have to obtain your consent. However, non-evidential material is kept for a maximum of 31 days only and footage can’t be disclosed to third parties without your consent, unless it’s required by law. If you do wish to be recorded, officers will consider commencing recording where possible.
There is no deletion or editing facility on the camera. When an officer docks his or her camera to charge the battery, it automatically uploads all its footage. Once uploaded, the footage cannot be altered or deleted by anyone, and unless marked for retention, the system auto deletes it after 31 days.
Recorded material counts as police information and can be obtained with a written request under data protection law. To find out more about your rights visit our Data protection pages.
An officer can make a recording both in public or private premises so long as it is proportionate, legitimate and necessary. It is MPS policy that officers give consideration to circumstances or environments where a greater degree of privacy would be expected and, where possible, restrict recording to those individuals and areas where it is necessary in order to provide evidence relevant to the incident.
Officers don’t have to obtain consent of the subject being filmed. However, non-evidential material is kept for a maximum of 31 days only and footage can’t be disclosed to third parties without their consent, unless it’s required by law.
The only exception to this is stop and search. Police can show stop and search film to independent community monitoring groups for scrutiny. This is to improve the way it’s carried out and make officers more accountable to the public. However stop and search is subject to the same retention provisions, automatically deleted after 31 days if non evidential.
As footage that is not being used for evidence is only retained for 31 days, complaints need to be made soon after the incident so that the footage can be kept in the event of an investigation into the matter.
For more information about body worn video, please see our website www.met.police.uk/feedback/thanks-and-complaints/.
It is very unlikely that a camera would get lost however if this happens or there is a technical fault an officer would have to rely on his or her notes from an incident.