Victorian police receive body-worn cameras

Monday, 03 September, 2018

Victorian police receive body-worn cameras

Body-worn cameras will be introduced to frontline police across the state of Victoria, following a successful pilot.

New, small, battery-powered cameras will be worn on the uniform of general duties police officers. They will be used to capture audio and video interactions between police officers and members of the public, as well as real-time capture of video evidence at the scene of a crime.

Police at 59 police stations will be equipped with the body-worn cameras by the end of the year, after the trial in Ballarat and Epping resulted in positive community feedback.

Minister for Police Lisa Neville announced that around 800 devices would be deployed by the end of the year after the pilot led to four court cases being expedited through early guilty pleas.

“Body-worn cameras will help strengthen community safety, improve evidence gathering, and increase accountability and better interaction between police and the community,” she said.

“They have already led to quicker results through the courts and we expect these benefits will continue as they’re deployed to more and more frontline police.

“We’re giving police the resources, powers and technology they need to target and investigate crime and support a safer Victoria.”

Victoria Police said police officers will be more accountable in their interactions with the public as a result of having their interactions being recorded.

In addition, during the pilot, when some individuals threatened to complain about police interactions, it was found those complaints were not pursued when they were informed their interaction had been video recorded.

Around 150 cameras were issued earlier this year as part of a six-week pilot, funded by the Victorian Government. And as a result, Victoria Police have provided 10 recommendations for the project rollout.

These include technical specifications and the need for mounting options for cameras to be used with new ballistic vests — also funded by the government — and most importantly, that deployment should proceed.

Around 11,000 police officers will operate body-worn cameras, with the first to be rolled out from next month to the nine police stations in the Ballarat region, including Ballarat North, Ballarat West and Avoca, with further rollouts by the end of the year. The full deployment will be completed by 2020.

The cameras will help strengthen community safety and help to improve transparency and accountability in police interactions among the public. Police will turn the cameras on whenever they are exercising police powers, collecting evidence or when it would provide transparency to a police interaction.

Strict laws were introduced last year to ensure adequate protections are in place against the unauthorised disclosure of footage.

This month, the state government passed legislation to enact recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence for body-worn cameras to collect statements from victims to use as evidence in court. This was the first step towards ensuring Victoria Police can start the work to implement this important recommendation.

The cameras are a key pillar of the government’s record $596 million Public Safety Package, which made record investment into technology for police.

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