Body camera ‘roll out’ for Flintshire police officers
Police officers in Flintshire will wear video cameras from this month following a successful pilot scheme across Conwy and Denbighshire.
North Wales Police say they are committed to using new crime-fighting technology in frontline policing.
The introduction of the technology has been welcomed by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC
A £25,000 contribution from the Commissioner and a Ministry of Justice Innovation Fund grant of £44,000 made the North Wales initiative possible
It is widely accepted that Body Worn Video (BWV) significantly improves the opportunity for officers to gather good evidence, while feedback from other forces shows that their use promotes public reassurance, modifies people’s behaviour, prevents harm and often deters people from committing crime and anti-social behaviour.
The High Definition recordings provide independent evidence that can improve the quality of prosecution material and can reduce the reliance on a victim having to give evidence, particularly those who may be vulnerable or reluctant to attend court.
The equipment also helps to develop the professionalism of officers whose interactions with the public are also recorded.
A pilot scheme across Conwy and Denbighshire in recent months has proved successful, having been used to gather footage of anti-social behaviour, domestic related crime and the execution of search warrants.
Sgt Alwyn Williams said;
“The cameras are a welcome addition to an officer’s kit. They have been in circulation in West Conwy since April and have often been a topic of positive conversations with the public which is reassuring.
“To date the cameras have been used to record crime scenes, including public order situations and domestic violence related incidents. Some of these matters have progressed through to the criminal justice system with the footage enabling the best evidence to be presented to the court while at the same time reducing the demand for officers to have to attend court.
“There is strict legislation around their use. Specially trained response officers will use them in situations where they would normally use their pocket note books to record details of an incident or an encounter. They cannot be used covertly to make secret recordings.”
Once back at the police station, the police officer will dock the device and the video material automatically goes to a digital store of evidence which is integrated with the force’s central records management system.
Mr Roddick said:
“The use of body worn video is an excellent idea because this state-of-the-art technology will improve the effectiveness of policing in North Wales.
“At the same time, it will also speed up the criminal justice system because the camera doesn’t lie.
“The camera provides instant evidence which is contemporaneous and incontrovertible.
“As a result, it will deter some criminals from committing a crime and if they do in fact commit a crime they will see there is no alternative other than to pleading guilty.
“That means a great deal of time and money will be saved for North Wales Police and the courts where justice is administered.
“It is a fantastic new weapon in the fight against crime.”
As well as Flintshire police officers in Wrexham will be using BWV from July and in Anglesey and Gwynedd will they deploy them from August.
Key tool in capturing vital evidence
Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant believes the cameras will become a key tool in capturing vital evidence in domestic violence cases.
“I’m very pleased to hear that North Wales Police are making the most of modern technology and adopting it to capture evidence in situations including domestic violence incidents,” said Mr Sargeant.
Cases from forces in the UK who are already using Body Worn Video show that it is helpful in securing prosecution against perpetrators of domestic violence.
Domestic violence still kills two women in Wales and England every week so anything that can help to cut that figure is to be welcomed.
Court cases can be extremely traumatic for vulnerable victims and good quality footage can eliminate the need for them to give evidence, or at least make their turn on the stand less stressful.”
Last year Gale Marmoy, a Hampshire victim of domestic violence, credited Hampshire Police’s body cameras with helping to secure a conviction against her husband Michael John Gregory.
After suffering 10 years of abuse, she called 999 for the first time in October 2013 when she feared he would kill her.
Footage of the scene they found on arrival and the devastating injuries she had sustained helped to gain a conviction against Gregory, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Shotton-based Domestic Abuse Safety Unit (DASU) operates a 24-hour emergency service on 01244 830436.
Support and advice is also available via the All Wales Domestic Abuse and Sexual Abuse Helpline on 0800 8010 800.
In an emergency domestic violence victims should ring 999. For non-emergencies call North Wales Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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