Improved evidence capturing and quicker outcomes for victims are just two of the benefits of new Body Worn Video cameras that will be available to Surrey Police officers in the future.
The initiative, supported by and using funds made available by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, will see the Force take on more than 1,200 units in March.
Surrey will use the same Reveal devices as those operated in Hampshire,Thames Valley and in Sussex which means there is already a knowledge base to support training, best practice, as well as sharing back office ICT functions.
The key benefits of using BWV are that it allows officers to quickly capture early evidence, which in turn because of its strength and quality can result in early guilty pleas at court and a much faster court process.
This saves victims having to go through the distressing experience of giving evidence in court, while also saving the Force and Crown Prosecution Service valuable time and resources.
The devices will primarily be used by frontline officers around the county.
Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley said: “I am very pleased that Surrey Police will be adopting the use of Body Worn Video as soon as we can procure the units this year.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner I have been keen to encourage the introduction of this enormously effective piece of kit for some time now and I look forward to witnessing the inevitable benefits.”
Detective Superintendent Claire Pridgeon, Director of the Surrey and Sussex Digital Enablement Team, said: “We know that capturing evidence at an early stage is a vital part of our on-going efforts to bring more offenders to justice.
“There are occasions where victims are particularly vulnerable and may be unwilling to attend court, or provide further evidence. However, where early capture of injuries and accounts has taken place, that information can be used at court. This is obviously particularly useful for sensitive cases, such as dealing with the victims of domestic abuse.”
A number of recent studies and reports from across the country also found that public order and assault crimes dropped when frontline officers were wearing BWV – resulting in fewer assaults on police and, potentially, the number of days lost owing to staff being off sick owing to assaults on police being reduced.
In some parts of the UK the introduction of BWV has also led to a reduction in complaints regarding use of force by officers. Metropolitan Police Service officers using BWV stated that 80% of the complaints against them could be disproved using video capture and this increased officer confidence about turning the video on.
D/Supt Pridgeon added: “Another benefit from the use of Body Worn Video is that it helps to increase public awareness of the dangers police face on a daily basis.
“There have been a number of recent incidents where, following a criminal trial, police forces have uploaded BWV footage onto social media in an effort to highlight the risks that officers face on a daily basis. Whilst in some cases this may be distressing it highlights to the general public the lengths police go to in order to keep people safe.”