Body camera consultation

This consultation is now closed.

Information about the results of the consultation is now available:

Background

Body Worn Video Cameras (BWVCs) have been in use in the UK since 2005, with Devon and Cornwall Police being the first force to use the technology. Five years later, the vast majority of police forces were using the cameras to varying degrees. BWVCs are also in use by councils, primarily for civil enforcement officers, and by the ambulance services’ Hazardous Area Response Teams. Cheshire West and Chester Council is preparing to launch BWVCs for use by its civil enforcement officers (CEOs) across the Borough from summer 2016. The Council’s CEOs mainly enforce parking restrictions, although they are also sometimes involved in other enforcement work, including Blue Badge fraud.

Reasons for the introduction of BWVCs

The cameras can be activated by CEOs as appropriate, for example, for the purpose of:
  • the prevention and detection of crime in relation to a CEO's health and safety. CEOs are particularly at risk of verbal abuse and occasionally even physical assault because of the nature of the work they do and the fact that they often work alone
  • investigating complaints made by members of the public. The cameras will improve transparency and accountability in the event of complaints (for example, about officer conduct) by providing a record of the interaction in question between the CEO and the complainant. Currently, when a complaint is received, it is often very difficult to establish the facts because it is one person’s word against the other person’s. If an immediate and exact record of the interaction is available, we will be able to investigate complaints much more quickly and effectively and improve our response to the public
  • protecting public safety by recording other situations as they arise. Officers are also approached by members of the public requesting assistance (for example, after they have been the subject of an assault) or they witness incidents involving third parties.
Overall, BWVCs have the potential to significantly improve the safety of officers and the public by encouraging people to moderate their behaviour and by deterring abuse and aggression or, if necessary, by providing evidence of any abuse or aggression that has taken place.



How the BWVCs will work and be used

 
  • The BWVC is a video and audio recording device, one feature cannot be used without the other.
  • The cameras will be worn by the CEOs as part of their uniform.
  • Full training will be provided to officers in the use of the cameras.
  • The use of BWVCs will be ‘incident specific’. It is anticipated that officers will only record interactions between themselves and members of the public that occur in relation to the officer issuing a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) to a vehicle, in other circumstances if the officer feels threatened, or to protect public safety.
  • The Council is committed to the principle that no member of the public should be recorded by BWVC without being fully aware that it is taking place. Therefore, officers will, unless it is completely impracticable, tell those present when they are recording and when they are about to switch off the camera.
  • In principle, users are not required to obtain the express consent of the person(s) being filmed, but the user can consider on a case-by-case basis whether or not to switch the BWVC off.
  • They will usually only switch the camera off when the incident has concluded.
  • The camera records to an encrypted storage device. The footage can then be downloaded to the Council system.

Data storage and privacy

  • Footage that is not likely to be required for the investigation of a complaint or is not of evidential value will be removed automatically from the system within a very short time - the current guidance is within 31 days from the date of the incident/recording.
  • All data is stored securely and the storage and deletion system is regularly audited.
  • The number of staff who have access to the footage is limited with only those who require it for evidential purposes having access to it, and safeguards in place for the destruction of copies of the footage
  • Any material which is deemed as evidential could be shared with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service, defence professionals and the Courts to support a prosecution but the sharing of the information outside these parameters is generally not permitted.
  • People who have been recorded have the right to see the footage of themselves.

Complaints

You can complain if you are not satisfied with the service you have received from the Council using the standard Council complaints procedure.

How do I share my views

This consultation runs for eight weeks and closes on Friday, 24 June. We would welcome views about our plans, including how the cameras might be used, about the storage of footage and privacy aspects. We are currently running discussion groups to obtain views from members of the public and will also be consulting with the CEOs themselves. There is a range of ways that you can express your views:

Further information

Council information is also available in audio, braille, large print or other formats. If you would like a copy in a different format, in another language or require a British sign language (BSL) interpreter:

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