In light of #plebgate tory stalwart David Davies calls for all officers to be issued with body cams.
I will be clear on any conflict of interest over Mr Davies – never met him, but after his media attacks labelling us all liars, I have grown to dislike him.
So what if officers were issued body cameras? I have long thought this a good idea. Attend a domestic, or public order job, and it could be highly useful.
But I am close to changing my mind. Davies says it will make police more honest and (my opinion) he thinks we are all liars, and therefore there will be fewer complaints.
So why would I think that this is a bad idea? for a start who will wear it?
‘ front line officers ‘
Fine for the response bobby, but what about the CID or crime team detectives that deal with serious criminals, or victims? If you call the police do you want a camera recording everything you say?
‘when will it be used? ‘
What will the instructions be for use? If this equipment was issued in a non political manner, we could just use it on patrol. Davies would have it available for complaints and ipcc – so will I be disciplined for switching it off while in the loo? or with a vulnerable victim?
I can sense that instead of helping to avoid vexatious complaints, if these cameras are politically issued then they will actually increase complaints.
How do I evidence that?
Let’s start with civil liberties – in the UK these groups are extremely vocal and powerful ( liberty etc). There would be an uproar. And some of our ‘customers’ would probably demand we switch it off and actually cause or provoke incidents by their use. Think of those TV series where they go ‘ get that camera away from me.’
The next, and more worrying issue,
Is that of complaints. Going back to when do we wear this gear? if I switch it off, go to the toilet, but get a 999 call.. Maybe forget to switch it back on. Will I be stitched up by ipcc? or perhaps I moan to my colleague about having to attend the same address and people for the 5th time that shift? I might deal with it perfectly, but if they got wind of me moaning about them, will I be disciplined? it’s a private comment after all. What about MY civil liberties? surely I have some?
I will leave you with this – the fed officers who met with Andrew Mitchell weren’t on patrol- and what about meetings between senior officers where big decisions are made?
Should they have cameras too?