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Should all police officers wear body cams

Our People - Andrew Guile
19 March, 2015

As recent events in the USA have sparked a call there for more officers to wear body cameras, will the UK follow suit?

Body-cams are in use in the UK but they are certainly not used widely. It’s very rare for us here at GN Law to have a case where such footage is available. What are the implications of body-cams being more widely used in the future?

It is hard not to view body-cams as a good thing. Greater accountability and, hopefully, better public relations off that back of that accountability, must surely be a positive development. However, a recent case in the USA shows how the availability of such footage might lead to other complications.

In a recent case, an attorney received a bill of over $18,000 for the 84 hours of body-cam footage that he had requested on DVD. Disclosure rules in the USA can vary between states and the rules in the UK are different too but the potential for argument over the cost of providing disclosure of such material is one that could easily happen here, not to mention the potentially damaging effect that could be had if body-cam footage is ‘lost’, ‘damaged’ or if the camera is said to have ‘not been working.’

If body-cams are to provide accountability, so as to improve public relations with our various police forces, the cameras had better work, footage never be ‘lost’ and disclosure costs must not be so prohibitive so as to appear to be a deterrent to seeking disclosure.

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