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Special constables and plain clothes detectives set to get body cameras

PUBLISHED: 17:26 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:26 23 February 2018

Police officers. Stock image. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Police officers. Stock image. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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The final phase of equipping every police officer in Suffolk with body cameras will begin this April bringing the total cost of the roll-out to £2.8 million.

In October 2016, Suffolk Constabulary launched a scheme to meet Home Office recommendations for all forces to embrace new technology which could assist with presenting evidence in court and dealing with vexatious complaints.

The first phase equipped all firearms, roads and dog section officers across Suffolk and Norfolk with body-worn cameras.

A total of 270 personal issue cameras were distributed almost a month ahead of schedule and at a cost of £1 million by July 4 last year. By the end of the year, phase two had seen 1,450 cameras issued to frontline uniform officers.

The final phase begins on April 2, when the remaining cameras will be delivered to special constables and plain clothes detectives at a cost of £600,000.

A report from the chief constable was presented to the police and crime commissioner’s accountability and performance panel on Friday, setting out the objectives of issuing all officers with body worn cameras.

An evaluation plan was launched before the second phase to establish whether or not the use of body cameras would alter officer morale, the number of reported assaults on officers, the number of complaints against police and the time it takes to resolve complaints.

The evaluation also set out to track public confidence data and domestic abuse conviction rates before and after the roll-out.

The report said: “Early findings from the pre-roll-out consultation suggest that the general feeling amongst officers is that the use of BWV (body worn video) is likely to have a positive impact on their day to day roles.

“Some of the key expected benefits identified by frontline officers included it being instrumental in showing the demeanour of persons police are dealing with, and providing a first-hand view of the scene; a means of corroborating evidence to counteract complaints against police; potential to diffuse situations, as individuals will be informed they are being filmed; potential for increase in early guilty pleas and/or successful prosecutions.”

A final evaluation will be published in 2019, with an interim report covering the first six months of the roll-out.

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