All Durham frontline officers to use BWV

All frontline police officers at Durham Constabulary, including Special Constables and police community support officers (PCSOs), are to be equipped with ‘mini’ body-worn video (BWV) cameras while on duty.

Jun 11, 2014
By Paul Jacques
Police-recorded hate crimes in England and Wales. PA Graphic. Source Home Office. Figure for 2019/20 not included due to missing data.

All frontline police officers at Durham Constabulary, including Special Constables and police community support officers (PCSOs), are to be equipped with ‘mini’ body-worn video (BWV) cameras while on duty.

The high-resolution cameras being used by the force are the smallest of their kind in the world, measuring just 55mm high x 20mm wide x 20mm deep. The Veho Muvi™ Pro VCC-003 mini-cam has a high-resolution 2MP camera featuring FRE Technology (up to 30 frames per second), date/time stamp and a 4GB memory card.

Durham Constabulary introduced the BWV devices in August 2012, initially on a trial basis to officers in Bishop Auckland. Their use was then extended to cover response and neighbourhood officers across the force by April last year. The cameras have proved so successful that a further 200 have now been purchased, bringing the total currently in use across the force to around 700.

Durham Constabulary is among the first forces to extend the use of BWV cameras across all frontline members of staff.

Staffordshire Police recently announced that it is to make 530 BWV cameras available to frontline officers – enough for every police officer, PCSO and Special Constable on duty at any one time.

And Hampshire Constabulary equipped every frontline police officer on the Isle of Wight with a BWV camera as part of the year-long Operation Hyperion to explore how they could provide a more efficient and accountable service to the public. BWV had been in use in Hampshire since 2008, but Operation Hyperion was the first initiative to introduce ‘personal issue’ body cameras to all frontline officers. One camera was assigned to one specific officer or PCSO for the duration of the project that ended last month.

Chief Superintendent Graham Hall, who has overseen the development of the cameras at Durham, said the BWV devices will also be personal issue to each officer and are already “proving invaluable in a variety of ways”.

“They are being used to support early charging decisions by the Crown Prosecution Service as their staff can now often view the scene of an incident, hear the initial account of the victim and see any injuries caused,” he said.

“This in turn often prompts early guilty pleas from offenders, for example those captured during public order incidents where their behaviour can clearly be seen on the footage, and this helps to bring offenders to justice at the earliest opportunity which reduces overall costs to the criminal justice system.”

As the cameras frequently have a deterrent effect on behaviour, Chief Supt Hall said other benefits have included a reduction in the amount of time spent on investigating complaints against officers and additional protection against malicious complaints and physical violence.

“The use of body cameras is proving a positive experience for officers and in the current financial climate provides the widest operational benefits for the lowest cost,” he said.

“Members of the public can be confident that this further rollout of the cameras is about providing the best possible use of resources, reducing costs and making Durham Constabulary even more accountable to the people we serve.”

Durham’s police and crime commissioner Ron Hogg said the cameras “will promote public reassurance, capture best evidence, prevent harm and deter people from committing crime and anti-social behaviour”.

“Recordings provide independent evidence that will improve the quality of prosecution cases and reduce the reliance on victim evidence, particularly those who may be vulnerable or reluctant to attend court,” he added. “Using recordings will also impact on the professionalism of the service and support the professional development of officers and staff.”

Special Constabulary Superintendent Dale Checksfield said in the current climate where Specials were supporting more diverse policing roles, “the personal issue of body cameras will increase our ability to support Durham Constabulary in delivering a high quality of service, protecting victims of crime and enhancing the

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