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Lisburn Police launch head camera

30 Jul 2009

Police officer wearing a body worn camera

Following a successful pilot scheme, Police in Lisburn will be using state-of-the-art digital 'body worn camera' technology.

Lisburn Area Commander, Chief Inspector Davy Moore explains: "By wearing body worn cameras, we hope to deter people from committing crime.  These cameras essentially bring the scene of an incident into the courtroom.  Courts will see and hear the incident through the eyes and ears of the officer at the scene, therefore providing an accurate account of the actions of the accused.

"Cameras significantly improve the quality of evidence captured by police officers, which helps to bring more offenders to justice and in turn reduce crime.  Studies have already indicated that when shown evidence of their behaviour, offenders are more likely to plead guilty rather than contest their cases in court," he said.

The equipment consists of two small colour cameras, one of which has infrared technology.  They will be worn openly by uniformed officers and are linked to a portable hard drive.  Every frame of footage is watermarked to ensure it cannot be tampered with.

The camera records audio and visual footage, which can be used to show what an officer is seeing and doing at the scene of an incident.  It records the actions of people involved in incidents where police are deployed.  It also captures the scene at the time and any damage that may have been caused or injuries sustained.  Cameras are solely for use by uniformed officers on patrol.

The use of the cameras during the pilot period in Carrickfergus has led to a reduction in overall reported crime, a reduction in complaints and allegations against police and a reduction in time spent on paperwork by officers.

Cameras will be deployed at incidents ranging from domestic abuse, violent situations, animal cruelty, planned searches, road traffic collisions, paramilitary related incidents and youth related incidents.

It is hoped that deployment of camera technology will produce a number of benefits, including:

  • Prevent and deter crime: as the presence of a camera will change the behaviour of offenders.
  • Reduce any challenge to police officers evidence in court: as the technology provides a first hand visual and audio account of the evidence.
  • Reduce the number of malicious complaints brought against police officers: as the camera footage will provide an accurate account of what a police officer is seeing, hearing and doing at an incident.
  • Increase the likelihood of early guilty pleas: reducing the amount of time spent by police officers and indeed the courts.
  • To reduce assaults on police officers as offenders are more likely to modify their behaviour if a camera is present.

Chief Inspector Moore continued: "The use of this type of technology within the Police Service is not new.  However, we believe it will have a significant impact on how the Police Service are able to deal with crime and the fear of crime.  The major factor in this type of equipment is that it provides first hand evidence and stops people denying their involvement or the part they’ve played in an incident.

"It accurately records the effects incidents can have on victims and allows the court to fully appreciate the situation.  This technology will assist officers, who previously relied on written statements.  It is reasonable for members of the public within the local Lisburn area to assume that where police are in attendance at an incident, it will be likely that at least one officer at the scene will be using a camera” he said.