Police wearing body worn video cameras – it sounds like something out of a fictional, futuristic novel or movie.
Well it would seem that the future is now and this concept is a reality. The technology has been trialled and adopted by police officers in several countries including the USA and the United Kingdom.
It is also a reality in various Australian states including Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria and New South Wales.
And it is about to become a part of the uniform for police in the Southern Highlands.
No doubt it is a surprising reality for many people in the community, possibly even an unwelcome sign of the times.
The question of privacy is one that quickly springs to mind.
But then it was the same question that came to the fore when communities began introducing CCTV cameras in public areas.
However, recordings captured on CCTV have become an integral part of policing in recent years often helping to identify possible offenders and solve crimes.
We also live in a society and era in which nearly every man, woman and child has a mobile phone and those phones are frequently used to record situations that are then passed onto police as evidence. The same concept appplies to another popular recording device – the dash cam.
With these facts in mind the an argument for privacy in a public place has lost its relevance. It is clear that if you do something wrong in a public place there is every chance it will be captured on camera.
The introduction of body worn video cameras on police officers seems a natural progression. They will be activated for use in operational policing to record incidents or events in real-time where visual and audio evidence will support an investigation.
They will no doubt be equally important in boosting the safety of both police and the community. In the first instance those inclined to cause continued trouble in the presence of police may think twice about their actions. In the second instance, if they aren’t deterred from illegal behaviour, their actions will be captured on cameras which can be used as evidence in a conviction.
According to NSW Police, research suggests body worn video cameras have several benefits including lower incidence and escalation of violence, improved officer conduct and professionalism, and improved offender behaviour. Such outcomes are good for all.
Big Brother really is watching you.