Home Secretary backs Federation campain to release body-worn video footage to the public

Home Secretary Priti Patel has given her backing to a campaign launched by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) to share body-worn video (BWV) footage with the public in a bid to prevent police officers being unfairly criticised.

Sep 17, 2020
By Tony Thompson

This follows a rise in the posting of ‘selective clips’ of police incidents on social media and concerns raised by the PFEW about members being subjected to personal abuse because of one-sided videos.

PFEW national chair John Apter recently raised this topic with the Home Secretary during an interview for the federation’s magazine. Ms Patel branded the publicising of unbalanced footage in an attempt to vilify officers as “unacceptable”.

She has now written Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), encouraging forces to be proactive in considering when BWV footage can be released to demonstrate the good work officers do and to highlight that selective footage can be misleading.

Ms Patel said: “It is in this context that I am expressing my support for the Police Federation’s recent campaign to protect officers from unfair criticism via social media.”

Mr Apter said: “I have said this time and time again, but the toxification we are seeing, of posting these video clips without a balance, is incredibly damaging.

“I wrote to the NPCC and the College of Policing, saying that when appropriate and where it is possible, we should release officers’ body worn-video footage. I also raised this directly with the Home Secretary.

“I appreciate we can’t release footage in every circumstance, but if officers are being vilified on social media then there must be balance to protect them and show the full story.

“The Home Secretary’s support and the action being taken by the NPCC and College of Policing is very welcome news. This is a step in the right direction, not only to protect my colleagues from unfair social media attacks, but also to protect public confidence in the police.”

Last month, Mr Apter wrote to both Mr Hewitt and to the chief executive of the College of Policing, Mike Cunningham, asking for an urgent investigation into the situation.

The NPCC and the college have since agreed to begin reviewing BWV guidance with the PFEW contributing to the process.

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