Introduce body worn video for officers
In his 2016 manifesto the Police and Crime Commissioner pledged to work with Dorset Police to improve Force technology and infrastructure. One element of this included a commitment to continue work from his first term of office to introduce Body Worn Video (BWV) for police officers.
This invoves wearable video and audio recording devices aimed at improving interactions between officers and the public.
The PCC is a strong proponent of BWV as a tool to increase the evidence gathering ability of the police, especially in domestic abuse and public order scenarios. They provide an unbiased record of what an officer has experienced, making the police more transparent and officers’ actions more accountable.
He has long argued that cameras can help diffuse difficult situations as people behave differently when told they are being filmed, as well as proving extremely useful in court to assist officers who have been assaulted and in cases of complaints against police.
Public surveys undertaken by OPCC have shown consistent support from the public in introducing this tactic to the policing of Dorset.
BWV was introduced with a pilot scheme in Bournemouth in 2016, after which usage was phased in across Dorset, with all officers and PCSOs having BWV as part of their kit by the summer of 2019. The introduction of BWV was, in part, funded by money raised through the PCC’s precept setting responsibilities.
While it is still too early to appreciate the full impact and benefits of the introduction of BWV in Dorset, the initiative has been well received by both officers and members of the public. Early indications are also that partner agencies appreciate the availability and benefits of real-time visual evidence.
As part of a Spotlight Scrutiny Review undertaken by the Dorset Police and Crime Panel, it was concluded that “there was clear evidence both nationally and locally… that the use of BWV does impact on prevention and detection of crime, nuisance and disorder” and that “there is clear evidence of the force being held to account [by the PCC]” for the project.
Furthermore, the PCC’s independent scrutiny panels are also making use of this new technology to view footage in cases of Use of Force and Stop and Search, thereby giving them a greater ability to understand and assess Force activity on behalf of the public.