London Met to start wearing body cameras

Hopes to improve quality of evidence

Police officers in the London Met are to start wearing body cameras in a bid to boost transparency and accelerate convictions.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) today launched a "large" pilot project with the wearable cameras to test their feasibility and assess how they can be deployed on a wider scale in the future.

The year-long trial will see 500 Axon Body Cameras, manufactured by TSR, distributed to officers across 10 London boroughs.

An MPS spokesperson told Techworld: "The TSR Axon Camera was chosen following a competitive tender process with a minimum of 5 suppliers invited to bid as required."

Officers in the Camden Borough will start using the cameras from today, with further trials in Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Brent, Croydon, Ealing, Havering, Hillingdon and Lewisham.

Over the course of the trial, two response teams on each borough will wear the cameras as they answer 999 calls.

The trial comes after the Met was criticised following the death of Mark Duggan, 29, at the hands of armed officers.

Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that body-worn video will help the met to be "more accountable".

The Scotland Yard chief added that video can be used to capture events that are hard to convey through writing.

"It has been shown the mere presence of this type of video can often defuse potentially violent situations without the need for force to be used," said Hogan-Howe.

"I believe it will also show our officers at their best, dealing with difficult and dangerous situations every day but it will also provide clearer evidence when its been alleged that we got things wrong. That has to be in both our own and the public's interest."

The cameras will be attached to the officer's body armour and used to collect video footage at crime scenes. They are switched on by either pressing a button on the body of the camera or by sliding a switch across the top. When it is on a red "flash" appears.

Officers will "dock" the camera at the end of each shift and upload the material to a cloud-based server, where it will be stored for one month, unless it is required for further evidence.

The force said that officers will have to comply with strict guidance about when they can use the cameras, highlighting that they will primarily be used to collect evidence in incidents such as domestic abuse and public order but also for potentially contentious interactions such as the use of stop and search.

The findings of the pilot will be evaluated by The Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) and the College of Policing before any decision about a future roll-out is made.

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