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Successful pilot brings roll-out of BWVs in Northern Ireland
18 Nov 2016

Officers in Belfast have switched on body-worn video cameras (BWVs) for the first time confident the biggest roll-out of technology in Northern Ireland will lead to "improved quality" of evidence-gathering. 

Some 400 BWVs have been put into service in the province's capital following a successful pilot scheme in Foyle, where footage was used in a number of prosecutions.  

The compact cameras are set to be introduced throughout Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in a £1.5 million investment. 

The PSNI believes they will secure "compelling, real time evidence" of unfolding criminal situations. 

Commanders think they will be of particular use in instances of domestic abuse, with the hope first-hand victim testimony will prove more powerful than written statements taken after the event. 

As well as helping bring perpetrators to justice, the PSNI also points to research that indicates the technology helps avert confrontations before they happen, as people are inclined to moderate their behaviour when they realise the red record light is on. 

Studies also suggest officer conduct is less likely to elicit complaints when they are wearing the video equipment. 

PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said the force is continuously striving to support the delivery of front-line policing. 

He said: "The pilot of this technology in Foyle district evidenced how body-worn video has the potential to improve the quality of evidence provided by police officers and thereby increase the number of offenders brought to justice. 

"Video evidence provides a compelling account of events and enables the raw emotion and action from a scene to be replayed in the courts in a manner that could never be captured in a witness statement. 

"It also supports accountability and transparency, both of which are key elements in increasing public confidence in policing." 

A total of 800 officers in Belfast have been trained in how to use the BWVs.  

Anne Connolly, chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, said: "This technology has proven to be valuable in many policing situations. 

"The evidential benefits it can bring in assisting the prosecution of case and particularly cases of domestic abuse is well documented."


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