Hampshire Police welcomes 93% drop in complaints against officers wearing body cameras

Hampshire Police has welcomed the news that complaints against officers using body cameras has sharply fallen.

Friday, 30th September 2016, 10:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:19 pm
Picture: PA

The force said that 1,400 cameras are being used by police officers and police community support officers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, but this will soon be increased to about 2,800.

New research reveals there has been a 93 per cent drop in complaints nationally against officers clearly wearing the cameras in the last year.

Police in Hampshire have been using the cameras since 2008.

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They are used as an independent witness which can give additional insight into situations where there are conflicting accounts about the circumstances of a crime.

The cameras are used by officers from response and patrol division, prevention and neighbourhoods, and some specialist crime departments.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge, which carried out the study, said the result: ‘assumes that BWCs (body-worn cameras) reduce officer non-compliance with procedures, improve suspects’ demeanour, or both.’

The study, which involved West Midlands Police, West Yorkshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, suggests that the “observer effect” of the cameras influences the behaviour of both officers and citizens.

Dr Barak Ariel, leading the research, said that the results suggested wide use of BWCs could reduce violence conflicts with officers and mark a significant cultural change in policing.

His report stated: ‘Cooling-down potentially volatile police-public encounters to the point where official grievances against the police have virtually vanished may well lead to the conclusion that the use of BWCs indeed signals a profound sea change in modern policing.’

Hampshire Police’s pledge to give body cameras to all its officers was unveiled in January last year.

The additional cameras will cost about £700,000, with the money coming from a government innovation grant.