Frontline officers equipped with latest BWV technology

Updated body-worn video (BWV) cameras that offer more accurate audio and imaging capability are being rolled out to all frontline officers in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Oct 24, 2020
By Paul Jacques

The gradual roll-out of around 24,000 new cameras across London has already begun. Officers from the South West and East Area Basic Command Units (BCUs), as well as the MPS’s Taskforce, have now received their new devices.

The MPS anticipates the “swapping of cameras” will be completed by April 2021.

The latest technology builds on the original deployment of BWV cameras in 2016.

Superintendent Jude Beehag-Fisher, from East Area BCU, said: “It is fantastic that the Met are continually improving technology to provide our frontline staff with the right equipment. Having the ability to capture evidential quality video to support officers in their work, enriching the qualitative detail of incidents to support the criminal justice process and providing an independent witness in the case of any complaints, is very welcome.”

The new Axon Body 3 (AB3) cameras benefit from better performance in low light and additional microphones for clearer audio recording, while providing officers with the capacity for faster uploading of evidence and battery charging.

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said it was “absolutely vital” that police retain the trust and confidence of communities.

She added: “The roll-out of BWV for all officers in London helps to improve transparency and I am pleased the Met is rolling out the latest technology to improve the footage captured. All officers have BWV cameras so that every Londoner, regardless of background or postcode, can feel safe and protected.”

The MPS says the use of BWV has “improved evidence gathering and increased transparency”, adding: “The footage has demonstrated the professionalism of our officers in the many difficult incidents they face.”

Officers will continue to ‘dock’ the camera at the end of each shift and upload footage. Data is deleted after 31 days, unless required for evidential purposes.

“Officers are issued with strict guidance about when cameras are to be used,” said the MPS. “As with the existing cameras, the new devices will not be permanently recording. Mandatory recording is required when dealing with incidents such as domestic abuse, arrests, use of force and any search of a person, vehicle or premises. Officers will inform members of the public, as soon as practical, that they are being recorded and flashing red lights will still appear in the centre of the camera to indicate this.”

While the AB3 has a built-in capability to live-stream, this is not currently enabled. However, in the future, following consultation with community representatives and stakeholders, the MPS says it may conduct a small-scale pilot to establish the benefits this functionality could bring, which would allow the user to live-stream footage back to a control room, supervisor or specialist officer to help them deal with an incident or provide advice.

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