updated 08:32 am EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
Trial involves 500 cameras worn by UK police officers on duty
Police in London are trialing the use of cameras worn on officers, in an attempt to speed up convictions, as well as increasing transparency in the police force. 500 units of the camera, a Taser Axon Body model, have been supplied to members of the Metropolitan Police working across 10 London boroughs for the one-year pilot, with firearm officers also said to be using them in training.
The devices will be shared among 31,000 officers, reports the BBC, with content recorded from the cameras stored for one month unless it is required for evidence. Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe advised the cameras will not be permanently running, due to the overwhelming amount of data that can be collected, stating police will "only put it on when we know there's an incident running. If the victim wants it to be turned off it will be turned off, but the suspect doesn't have that right."
The camera uses a slide across the top for power, with an orange sticker warning it is switched on. People coming into contact with the police officer wearing the camera will be provided a verbal warning if the camera is recording, with the camera beeping when its recording function is triggered. The Axon Body has a 130-degree lens for a wide field of view, a pre-event video buffer for recording incidents before the camera's record function is triggered, and a 12-hour battery life. The unit can record up to 4 hours of 640x480 video at 30fps, extending to 13 hours on the lowest recording setting, with Taser claiming it to have low-light recording capabilities for evening or night patrols.
While the trial will likely help the police in its duties, the nature of cameras worn by police forces is already under scrutiny. Jack Hart of The Freedom Association suggests there will be "continual debates about whether or not a camera was deliberately turned off. To create a situation where both police officers and the public feel constantly under suspicion is not sensible and undermines trust in all sectors of society."