Police roll out ‘body’ cameras in Tower Hamlets
- Credit: Archant
Police have begun using body cameras in Tower Hamlets with a mixed reception from the public.
Around 600 officers at Bethnal Green and Limehouse stations have been issued with small video cameras they clip to their uniforms that they can switch on if they confront anyone in the street.
Pc Ian Ball took the video equipment to meet the public outside Bethnal Green Underground station.
“I could have used in last night when we stopped a suspect in Brick Lane,” he said. “We were looking for stolen bikes being sold and one suspect wasn’t happy.”
Nicola Jones, 32, a children’s nanny from Forest Gate, worries about privacy and “selective” recording, but felt the cameras would make police more accountable.
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She said: “I’m not 100 per cent assured. My worry is the police turning the camera off when it’s not in their interest, especially if they’re harassing somebody.”
Pc Ball assured her cameras have to be on during ‘stop and search’ and can only be switched off if justified while still recording, especially if a victim asks for privacy.
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“That’s good,” Nicola added. “It prevents officers doing the kind of stuff in ‘stop and search’ when it’s not justified.”
The cameras record without audio on 30-second loops, over-recording the previous cycle. The officer taps the camera to start ongoing audio-video recording with a flashing red light when dealing with a situation.
Lorry driver Steve Ellis, 62, said: “I have no problem with police wearing body cameras in this day and age. It’s not really spying. There’s nothing wrong if you’ve got nothing to hide.”
The cameras also got approval from builders merchant’s apprentice George Richardson, 21, who said: “It’s not ‘Big Brother’ when you’ve got criminals taking videos of the police, crying about their rights.”
Permanent recordings can only be downloaded onto the Met’s computer back at the police station. Everything is wiped clean from the camera for the next day. The uploaded video is kept 31 days before being automatically deleted—unless there’s crime evidence needed for the courts, which is kept for seven years.