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Assaults on police still rising despite body-cam rollout for all officers

An evaluation report was commissioned to measure the impact of body worn video on Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies  Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

An evaluation report was commissioned to measure the impact of body worn video on Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies Picture: NORFOLK CONSTABULARY

Norfolk Constabulary

Assaults on police are continuing to rise in spite of the introduction of body worn videos cameras for all frontline officers in Suffolk.

Reported assaults on officers since the introduction of the technology have increased by 18% in Suffolk.

An evaluation of body worn video (BWV) compared data before and after deployment to frontline officers between August 2017 and January 2018.

The study measured a number of factors, including assaults, use of force, morale and complaints.

It also found there had been a 10% reduction in complaints against police, while the average time taken between a complaint to being received and finalised also reduced by 10% (or 12 days).

It had been hoped the introduction of cameras would lead to a reduction in the amount of assaults on officers.

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Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, David Cutler said it was not possible to attribute a single reason for the increase without a control sample of officers using and not using BWV.

Addressing a meeting of the police and crime commissioner's accountability and performance panel, he said: "We haven't seen a reduction, but this may be because BWV is encouraging officers to report assaults they would put up with in the past.

"There has been no change in use of force, which suggests we were doing things right in the first place.

"The reduction in complaints is good. We know some complaints have been malicious in the past, and having evidence on camera might prevent those being made.

"The feedback from officers is that they like being able to capture events very quickly. It's very useful in terms of stop-and-search scrutiny, and we're looking at using footage for having more joined-up conversations and scrutiny around domestic abuse."

Feedback from officers has largely been positive, according to the study - particularly in terms of evidence gathering, providing evidence in complaint cases, and making officers feel safer in conducting their duties.

Areas identified as requiring improvement included remembering to switch the camera on and off.

Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said activating BWV was not always the first thing on an officer's mind - particularly in a chaotic situation - but said the force hoped to achieve generational change as using the cameras became second nature.

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