Policing has always been a difficult job on a number of levels. Not least of these is the desire to turn arrests into convictions. By and large, policing is evidence-based work, and the process can be painstaking and intensely laborious. Yet without sufficient evidence, the CPS may not initiate a prosecution in the first place. Even if they do, a jury may be less likely to return a guilty verdict.
When gathering evidence, some cases, such as domestic violence, pose bigger challenges than others. This is a particular cause for concern for charities such as Refuge, which support the victims of domestic violence. However, a new development in policing hints that the tide may be turning.
Increasingly, police officers are wearing body cameras. Footage captured by cameras attached to the front of uniforms has already been instrumental in securing convictions. The Metropolitan Police led the way, rolling out 22,000 such cameras during 2016. Now, in 2017, most front-line officers nationwide have access to a body worn camera.
Several police trials of the cameras confirm their particular use in domestic violence situations. Such cases are vulnerable to victims either refusing to give a statement in the first place or later withdrawing it. Evidence captured on camera can be crucial in plugging the gap. In one such case, a woman who had been hit in the face and beaten with a frying pan gave a statement but later withdrew it. However, the police officers responding to her telephone call for help captured sufficient evidence on their body cameras to be able to charge the assailant.
A Metropolitan Police pilot study turned up additional benefits. Malicious complaints made against police officers fell by 33% when officers were wearing the cameras. It is likely that the market for body worn cameras, as supplied by companies such as https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/, will continue to grow as the use for the footage grows.
The cameras are easy to use, small and self-contained. No attempt is made to hide them: suspects or witnesses can see the screen and so know that they are being filmed. A single switch turns the camera on. Both data protection and the justice system are well served by built-in safeguards that encrypt the information captured by the cameras and ensure that nothing can be deleted from them.