Over 150 reports of police officers misusing body cameras, investigation finds

28 September 2023, 10:45 | Updated: 28 September 2023, 10:56

Body cameras have cost at least £90 million in the past decade.
Body cameras have cost at least £90 million in the past decade. Picture: Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Police officers in England and Wales have been switching off body-worn cameras, deleting video and sharing other footage on WhatsApp, an investigation has found.

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Other allegations levelled at police include the sharing of a naked image of an officer and the use of cameras to record conversations.

Body-worn cameras have cost at least £90 million over the past ten years and were intended to benefit both the police and victims.

Acting Chief Constable Jim Colwell, the National Police Chief Council’s lead for body-worn video, spoke to the BBC following an investigation, and said the incidents "go to the heart of what undermines confidence in policing."

The Home Office said in a statement: "Police use of technology, including body-worn video cameras, must be lawful, proportionate, and justified."

Incidents include cases where footage has been lost or deleted
Incidents include cases where footage has been lost or deleted. Picture: Alamy

Police failed to disclose footage after two siblings were prosecuted for allegedly assaulting and abusing officers at a Black Lives Matter protest in London in May 2023, the investigation claims.

Louisa, 25, and Yufial, 23, claimed that the police assaulted them and maintained their innocence.

Footage obtained by the BBC shows the two being pushed and struck by the police.

The video was not initially disclosed to them and they were both acquitted.

The judge at Yufial's hearing stated that the prosecution had seemingly deliberately failed to disclose relevant information.

The Met apologised in a statement.

However, Louisa had to be acquitted a second time after allegations said that she provided false information at the police station.

Caller believes the lack of respect and trust for police officers has been 'brought upon themselves'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently established 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 that 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 onto something – instead of hiding it."

Read more: Amid Nicola Bulley case Shelagh Fogarty comments on diminishing trust for the police force

Read more: No body worn cameras for Asda staff, says Lord Stuart Rose

Earlier this September, 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 2024 and plans to roll out the devices in 2025.

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