Should police officers’ body-worn video footage be made public?
Police officers’ body-worn video footage should be publicly released to stop them “facing trial by social media”, the national federation chairman has said.
John Apter, who leads the Police Federation of England and Wales, is urging force leaders to take action to protect officers from “unfair vilification” over controversial incidents.
Lawyers for the Metropolitan Police are already looking at ways to allow footage from officers’ cameras to be made public more easily.
The Met has faced controversy and accusations of racism in recent months following a series of vehicle stops including athlete Bianca Williams, MP Dawn Butler, and Inspector Charles Ehikioya.
An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was also launched following an incident involving two Suffolk police officers and a black couple on June 9.
A video showing part of the interaction, which was viewed millions of times online, showed an officer asking the man for identification and proof of residency after he stepped from his car onto a driveway in Ipswich.
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The video was referred to the force’s professional standards department, which referred the matter to the IOPC on June 19.
Commenting generally, Mr Apter said social media clips do not show the reality of policing and can sometimes not show the “full facts”.
Mr Apter has called for a meeting with the chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council, Martin Hewitt, and the head of the College of Policing, Mike Cunningham, to discuss the issue.
He added: “Given the way footage is being used against policing and police officers across all media, I would urge forces to be far more proactive in such circumstances, publicising BWV footage to redress the balance. I believe there is an urgent need for this to happen.
“I fully accept that it might not always be possible to release the BWV footage but doing nothing is not an option.
“We must take the necessary action to protect police officers from unfair vilification, as well as ensuring that public confidence in policing is not undermined.”
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