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Body cameras will aid city council enforcement officers

By Ben Comber

Body warn camera. Picture: Police Press Office
Body warn camera. Picture: Police Press Office

Body cameras are set to be introduced for council enforcement staff in Cambridge to cut incidents of littering and dog fouling.

Eight cameras, costing a total of £3,000, will be purchased using money collected from fixed penalty notices.

The move follows a Cambridge University study that shows body cameras have reduced complaints against officers of participating police forces by 93 per cent over a year-long study.

Further research by Dr Alex Sutherland, of RAND Europe, suggests the use of body cameras may not be as positive as first suggested.

He said: “In theory, body-worn cameras should help both police officers and members of the public. However, the overall picture, as proven by own research, is far

more complex.

“Our most recent research has shown how complaints against police officers have almost been eradicated after they wear body-worn cameras, but an earlier piece of research has shown that wearing body-worn cameras leads to a 15 per cent increase in assaults against police officers.”

“If organisations are planning to roll-out body-worn cameras then there is a need to further understand to what extent they are helping the officers and the public, and in what conditions they work best.”

The city council amended recommendations so that body recordings may also be instigated at the request of a member of the public.

Some 75% of instances in which officers issue a fixed penalty notice involve them being subjected to verbal abuse by members of the public.

Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “Our Enforcement Officers play a vital role in keeping Cambridge cleaner, greener and safer for both residents and visitors but they are also often at the sharp end in dealing with difficult and sometimes confrontational situations. On occasions they are subject to unreasonable abuse, which the Council needs to add protection to prevent, as well as ensure a proper conversation when anti-social behaviour is followed up.

“The use of Body Worn Cameras has been shown to help de-escalate many potentially volatile situations as well as providing clear evidence where complaints or challenges are made, in the interests of all involved.

“We have learned a lot from the experience of the police in implementing Body Worn Cameras, and Council use will be subject to strict policies including that we will also report back on them annually.

“This will be a positive addition to help tackle environmental crime, deal with offences fairly and make Cambridge safer for all.”


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