Police officers in G District, which includes Derry City, Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt, will be piloting a new scheme this week which allows them to video certain situations.
Speaking yesterday, Superintendent Garry Eaton explained, “The cameras will be used at our response teams discretion, and those being filmed will be informed that the camera has been switched on.
“The body-worn video cameras will immediately capture evidence and the context in which the complaint is made, from a victim or a witness, and give that witness and the wider criminal justice system the confidence that we’ve captured evidence at the very early stages which will help us assess what type of prosecution we might take going forward.”
Explaining how the cameras will work Superintendent Eaton continued, “They will not be running continuously but will be switched on and off at the discretion of the officer.
“Around 70 officers will initially be piloting the scheme and members of the public will see the videos in use from today on.
“Everyone here is really positive about it and there’s a sense that we will end this pilot with a very useful piece of equipment to provide officers with the tools to provide a much better service.”
Superintendent Eaton also acknowledged that the use of social media by the public was a trigger to the adoption of video by the PSNI.
“We will continue to use our larger hand-held cameras in large crowd situations, like those previously witnessed throughout the marching season for example, but the uptake of body-worn video cameras by the PSNI has been done in the context of developing technology and the use of social media by the public.”
The idea of the pilot scheme is to see whether the videos are effective in reducing crime, and help to bring forward prosecutions.
Superintendent Eaton said, “There’s a recognition that we can use technology to further enhance our services. We will be evaluating those benefits and if we can demonstrate that the use of technology can help us to reduce crime and support victims then the hope would be to have it rolled out across all divisions here. There would be a substantial cost to that but if it’s cost effective in the overall scheme of reducing crime then it will be a positive move.”