Police officers are ‘switching off body-worn cameras and deleting footage’, investigation finds

A body-worn video camera (Yui Mok/ PA) (PA Archive)
A body-worn video camera (Yui Mok/ PA) (PA Archive)

Police officers in England and Wales are switching off their body-worn cameras and deleting and sharing footage on WhatsApp, a BBC investigation found.

The broadcaster says it determined more than 150 reports of misuse of body-worn cameras.

The investigation found several serious allegations, which included reports in seven police forces where officers shared camera footage with friends or colleagues, either in person or online via social media.

Other allegations included images of a naked person being shared between officers and cameras being used to record conversations.

There were also reports of lost footage, deleted footage, videos not being marked as evidence and officers switching off cameras during incidents and facing no penalty.

The National Police Chief Council’s lead for body-worn video, Acting Chief Constable Jim Colwell, told the BBC the incidents “go to the heart of what undermines confidence in policing”.

The Home Office told the broadcaster: “Police use of technology, including body-worn video cameras, must be lawful, proportionate and justified.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently created the London Policing Board to help him “scrutinise the force”, following a recommendation in Baroness Louise Casey’s review of the culture and standards of the Metropolitan Police.

Baroness Casey told the BBC police forces have the wrong attitude towards the cameras.

She said: “There are too many dark things that go on that we are not seeing.

“The sooner (officers) get their heads around the fact that it’s a tool that would help them build trust they’d be on to something – instead of hiding it.”

Earlier this month, a senior police officer in Ireland said body-worn cameras have the potential to transform policing in Ireland, with an operational pilot beginning in the middle of next year and plans to rollout the devices in 2025.

Scotland’s First Minister Huzma Yousaf has also vowed to equip Scotland’s police with body-worn cameras.