Public order and assault offences have dropped dramatically since a group of Hampshire frontline police officers were issued with body-worn video cameras.
That’s the conclusion of researchers at Portsmouth University’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies.
They found that public order and assault crimes dropped by 18 per cent, from just over 1,700 to 1,400 in the year that police on the Isle of Wight were wearing cameras. It also found that assaults on police went down by a third.
The 160 cameras were issued to officers on the Island on 1 July 2013 and the detailed study evaluated the year prior to the issue of BWVs and the year after.
Five hundred more body-worn BWV cameras will be rolled out to frontline officers in Hampshire over the next three months and the effects of that on crime rates will also be evaluated by the University of Portsmouth.
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes said: ’This report identifies clear benefits to victims of crime, plus officers, and should be of some reassurance to society as a whole. In particular, outcomes for victims of domestic abuse on the Island appear to have been significantly improved as a result of evidence captured through BWV.”
The impact the cameras had on public order and assault was quite impressive – a sure sign that they are extremely effective at reducing certain types of crimeTom Ellis, Portsmouth University
Hampshire’s Chief Constable Andy Marsh said:’As well as introducing more of these cameras we need to continue to build public trust in this technology. This is crucial if we are to achieve the vision of a digitised criminal justice system which makes full use of Body-Worn Video evidence.’
At Portsmouth University, lead researcher Tom Ellis said: ‘This research is the first of its kind ever carried out in the UK to analyse whether police wearing personal issue cameras has an impact on crime and anti-social behaviour, complaints against police and early guilty pleas.
‘The impact the cameras had on public order and assault was quite impressive – a sure sign that they are extremely effective at reducing certain types of crime. The research indicates that the cameras could have an impact on around 30% of incidents reported to the Isle of Wight police.
‘Hampshire Constabulary was ahead of the game when they started using this technology for all IoW officers and ensuring it was independently evaluated.’
Inspector Steve Goodier of Hampshire Constabulary, has just been to the United States to present the findings to the U.S. Justice Department’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, with a heavy emphasis on rolling out BWVs to all US police officers. It was set up by President Obama in the wake of Ferguson and other police shootings.
He said ‘There have been plenty of indications that BWV cameras are effective but this is the first detailed evaluation to demonstrate the impact of personal issue to every officer on a number of fronts.’
‘It’s really encouraging to see such a drastic reduction in assaults on officers. Body-Worn Video is about more transparent policing and was introduced not just for the safety of officers, but for the safety of the public too.’
Hampshire Police said that the results also showed an increase in prosecutions and convictions in cases of domestic assault. It indicates that police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) can proceed in some cases without the need for the victims to testify because the footage is so convincing.
Tom Ellis said: ‘Using BWV footage to record domestic assaults is a powerful way of securing evidence early in an investigation without victims having to take part in the prosecution process.’
The study also explored public perceptions of police using cameras. Findings showed that a high percentage of IoW residents believed BWV technology would help the police to be more efficient.
Mr Ellis said: ‘Over 90 per cent of people who took part in the survey believed that cameras would help gather evidence, help identify criminals and increase the likelihood of conviction.’
Hampshire Constabulary is the first UK force to have made the cameras standard personal-issue for all frontline police officers and PCSOs in one of their districts,
A force spokesman said: ‘Funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Home Office will take the numbers of Body-Worn Video (BWV) cameras across the whole of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight from 500 to 2,800 over the next year. These will also be evaluated by the University of Portsmouth, and the next 500 cameras will be issued over the next three months.
Images used in evidence
Images recorded on BMV cameras shown injuries suffered by Isle of Wight woman Gale Marmoy, who is known as Dawn, who is re-building her life after years of abuse from her husband. He’s serving a 10-year prison sentence for assaulting her. The injuries were recorded on Body-Worn Video (BWV) cameras by police officers who responded to a 999 call from Dawn on the Isle of Wight in October 2013.
The video shown on this page contains images that some viewers may find distressing.