Body Worn Video: A new type of evidence?

Today the Metropolitan Police have announced that they are trialing body worn video (BWV) with 500 devices across 10 London boroughs. I welcome the news. Personally I think the ability to record and store live footage on the beat has enormous potential to build better relationships with communities, speed up the justice process and offer greater protection to both victims and officers.

In my opinion there are four crucial areas that need to be addressed in order to make the roll out of this technology successful.

1. A Sustainable Solution

While BWV brings many benefits, it is also likely to create a huge amount of data which needs to be uploaded remotely and stored securely. At the recent BAPCO event the Metropolitan Police estimated that if they were to archive 20% of all video recorded, the data would equate to 30 petabytes over a 7 year period. You can see why the volumes would be so large, if only one hundred officers recorded 2.5 hours of HD video per day the data stored each week would amount to 2.5 terabytes. This is a big ask of any network and audits need to be done to ensure their infrastructure is capable of managing these demands. Such capacity, estimated at 40 megabytes of bandwidth to move this volume of data, may prove costly to maintain but it is absolutely imperative in order to adhere to security guidelines.

2. Data Privacy

The Metropolitan Police plan to store data for up to a month after recording. It is important that they define a fair and transparent rule on why data warrants being held for any longer. There also needs to be procedures in place to ensure the chain of custody is protected, data is secure and cannot be stolen, deleted, edited or otherwise tampered with, which could result in crucial evidence being lost or compromised.  Both police and the general public need to trust the how data is recorded, collected and stored to ensure the approach does not fall at the first hurdle.

3. Usage Policy

Guidelines must be set on how the technology will be used. Should the camera always be on? If not, what scenario should trigger a recording? What are the potential risks if an officer forgets to record where video evidence could have been crucial?  Will video be shared with the media? Clear policies and processes need to be built into the roll out of the project in order to protect the public and the officer. It is important that BWV is used in a way that helps build public confidence and does not build a barrier between the community and the police force.

4. Culture and Adoption

For any new technology to be successfully adopted, officers on the front line must be given the right training. They must be confident in using the equipment effectively in a way that does not hinder their ability to do their vital role. Also, the general public are increasingly filming incidents on personal devices so it makes sense that police are equipped to record their own version of events as this type of technology increasingly becomes common place.

Telefonica will be working with the police, policy makers, consumer groups and others to ensure the best is brought out of technology and to ensure the public maintain confidence and trust in digital policing. I am a strong believer in BWV and if the above issues are addressed I believe the technology can enable an increasingly efficient and transparent police force. I look forward to viewing the output of the pilot and examining the potential for a wider role out across all UK forces.

Find out more about how O2 is helping criminal justice and emergency services increase effectiveness and drive citizen engagement on our website.