Police pilot video evidence system

Staffordshire Police has begun to test software that works with body worn video cameras

Feb 14, 2008
By Paul Jacques

Staffordshire Police has begun to test software that works with body worn video cameras

The force began to use the network enabled CARMA 2.0 software at the end of last year and is running the pilot for six months before considering whether to use it permanently.

It is one of the police forces aiming to take advantage of the £3 million grant fund the Government has set aside for trials of body worn camera systems.

As part of the trial, the software, provided by Reveal Media, has been incorporated into training sessions for armed response units. On duty officers are also using it to store and manage video evidence.

Phil Lovell, Staffordshire Police’s head of IT, said: “We have had 15 body worn cameras in our possession for some time now, and the potential benefits they offer to our front line officers in collecting and documenting evidence is phenomenal. However, I was unwilling to sanction the trial of this technology until we had software that was capable of doing justice to the hardware.”

He said the software provides an intuitive system for the management of evidential media, and there is a big advantage in it being network enabled. Officers can manage all the video evidence they generate, so the force does not require dedicated back office staff to handle the uploading and filing of incidents.

Over the course of the trial between 50 and 100 officers will be trained to use the system.

David Edge, Staffordshire Police project sponsor, said it will play a crucial role in supporting the criminal justice effort.

“For instance, it will allow officers to show archived video footage to offenders to secure an early guilty plea. We needed a system that allowed a standardised procedure and clear audit trail while maintaining our IT security.”

He added that it could also save the time usually spent on written accounts.

The Home Office report on the guidance for the police use of body-worn video devices predicts a 22.4 per cent reduction in officer time spent on paperwork and file preparation as a result of using the technology. It says that footage from the cameras can be used as supporting evidence in court, and that they have a proven calming effect that reduces the number of violent crimes.

CARMA 2.0 enables simple management of media created by bodyworn video recorders – sometimes referred to as ‘headcams’. It allows forces to tackle everyday issues related to the storage and retrieval of large volumes of vital video evidence. With the introduction of network capability, CARMA 2.0 allows video material to be securely stored and accessed from any PC within a force. Additional security features have also been added including a unique digital fingerprint of every video file sent to CARMA.

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