EXCLUSIVE: Hackney police to roll out body-worn cameras for all officers within a month

Police wear ody-worn cameras
Officers in Wolverhampton and Birmingham trial body-worn cameras. Credit: West Midlands Police via Creative Commons licence

Hackney police have confirmed that they are planning to supply all response officers with body-worn cameras in the next three weeks, in a move that follows the neighbouring boroughs of Camden and Islington.

Speaking exclusively to the Hackney Post, MPS Hackney said that, although they could not confirm the date, they are aiming for 10 April.

The cameras, which are the size of a cigarette pack, are fixed to the shoulder strap of officers’ vests. They have to be switched on and off manually and will not record footage at all times.

Police wear ody-worn cameras
Officers in Wolverhampton and Birmingham trial body-worn cameras. Credit: West Midlands Police via Creative Commons licence

Metropolitan Police research has shown that during an 11-month trial period, the number of complaint allegations against the police fell by 33 per cent. Their figures also claim that 80 per cent of Londoners are in favour of the introduction of body-worn video cameras.

The move has been lauded by Stoke Newington councillor Mete Coban who said: “It’s a no-brainer – it should have been done sooner.”

“It’s a win for everyone. The police can feel safer and so can the public. It is a good way of proving that a crime has been committed and it is also a good way of holding the police to account.”

Speaking to local councillors before Christmas, PC Nicola Irvine from the Safer Neighbourhoods Team in Hackney Central said: “Once people understand the purpose of the cameras, they are very clear of the benefits.”

She went on to say that the devices “increase police accountability and also help to de-escalate situations because people know they are being recorded”.

“The cameras can provide clear evidence and speed up criminal cases,” the officer added.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in October: “This technology is already helping drive down complaints against officers and making them more accountable, as well as helping to gather better evidence for swifter justice.”

The Metropolitan Police have said: “Londoners can feel reassured during their interactions with the police, while allowing us to demonstrate the professionalism of our officers in the many challenging and contentious interactions, such as the use of stop and search.

“All footage recorded on Body Worn Video is subject to legal safeguards and guidance. The footage from the Axon Body Camera is automatically uploaded to secure servers once the device has been docked, and flagged for use as evidence at court or other proceedings. Video not retained as evidence or for a policing purpose is automatically deleted within 31 days. 

“If the public wish to view footage taken of them they can request, in writing, to obtain it under Freedom of Information and data protection laws. It must be within 31 days, unless it has been marked as policing evidence and therefore retained. 

“The cameras will be worn attached to the officer’s uniform and will not be permanently recording. This ensures that officers’ interactions with the public are not unnecessarily impeded. Members of the public will be told as soon as practical that they are being recorded and when the camera is recording, it is highly visibly-notable by a flashing red circle in the centre of the camera and a frequent beeping noise when the camera is activated.”

The cameras were an important tool in the case of James Fox, who was fatally shot by police in Enfield last summer. He pointed a gun at officers before they opened fire and killed him. The footage captured by the officers’ body-worn cameras was shown at North London Coroner’s Court, aiding the jury to come to the decision that the police had to use force to defend themselves.