Metropolitan Police Late to Take on Body Cameras

May 13, 2014

Following the recent announcement that police officers are taking part in the largest pilot of ‘body cams’ in the Metropolitan Police the only surprise is that it is a pilot. Anyone who has looked through the digital channels on TV will have seen any number of ‘fly on the wall’ or in reality ‘camera on the shoulder’ documentaries.

In fact, forces outside the Met have been using this type of camera for some time.  At Nockolds we believe that this is technology to be welcomed rather than resisted. In a recent case where the footage was shown it proved that the officer’s statements were significantly wrong and the Defendant’s version was correct. In this particular case, the client avoided a disqualification for drink driving as it supported his account of drinking after he drove. This type of case is something we regularly deal with and is often known as ‘the hip flask defence’ as a reference to a drink being carried by the driver being consumed after the driving (with an implication that this is somehow trying to avoid the law). The reality in these cases is somewhat more straight forward, a driver not realising someone has tipped off the police about some driving error, gets home and sits down to have a drink before the police arrive at the door. It is one of a limited number of cases where it is for the defence to call evidence to prove the defence and therefore a time were we would strongly advise expert representation as an expert’s report is normally required.

Many haulage operators have recognised the benefit of cameras following the well reported ‘cash for crash’ accidents and fraudulent claims. Heavy vehicles don’t stop as quickly as cars, something which was exploited by those carrying out the scam as they pulled in front of lorries before braking heavily. These types of claims can be negated by the various on board CCTV systems which often use clever software to combine images from a number of cameras to create an all-round view which can also help when manoeuvring. If you are alert enough to know that it is an offence to have a TV screen in the sight of the driver then you should also know that an exemption is if it is to provide information which assists the driver. Cars that have TV/DVD fitted will switch to Sat Nav or similar when put into gear.

So smile, you probably are already on camera.

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