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London Met Police starts year-long trial of wearable cameras

updated 08:32 am EDT, Fri May 9, 2014

Trial involves 500 cameras worn by UK police officers on duty

Police in London are trialing the use of cameras worn on officers, in an attempt to speed up convictions, as well as increasing transparency in the police force. 500 units of the camera, a Taser Axon Body model, have been supplied to members of the Metropolitan Police working across 10 London boroughs for the one-year pilot, with firearm officers also said to be using them in training.

The devices will be shared among 31,000 officers, reports the BBC, with content recorded from the cameras stored for one month unless it is required for evidence. Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe advised the cameras will not be permanently running, due to the overwhelming amount of data that can be collected, stating police will "only put it on when we know there's an incident running. If the victim wants it to be turned off it will be turned off, but the suspect doesn't have that right."

The camera uses a slide across the top for power, with an orange sticker warning it is switched on. People coming into contact with the police officer wearing the camera will be provided a verbal warning if the camera is recording, with the camera beeping when its recording function is triggered. The Axon Body has a 130-degree lens for a wide field of view, a pre-event video buffer for recording incidents before the camera's record function is triggered, and a 12-hour battery life. The unit can record up to 4 hours of 640x480 video at 30fps, extending to 13 hours on the lowest recording setting, with Taser claiming it to have low-light recording capabilities for evening or night patrols.

While the trial will likely help the police in its duties, the nature of cameras worn by police forces is already under scrutiny. Jack Hart of The Freedom Association suggests there will be "continual debates about whether or not a camera was deliberately turned off. To create a situation where both police officers and the public feel constantly under suspicion is not sensible and undermines trust in all sectors of society."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    I'm of the opinion that every cop in the US should have one of these on his or her person at all times, and be unable to turn it off under any circumstances--it would do more to stem police abuse than all the laws and internal affairs investigations in the world. And I've read that there are at least a few areas where they're planning on it.

    The volumes of data is a poor excuse for only turning it on when something's happening, giving an officer up to no good an excuse to "forget" to turn his or her camera on; you only need to actually keep the recording if there is an incident filed (and if it was really an issue, you could limit it to the time of the incident and a few minutes on either end). I've never heard of all the dash cams in the US resulting in an unmanageable amount of data, despite the thousands of patrol cars nationwide driving the roads 24/7.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Incidentally, if you *did* want to save absolutely everything, based on the number of law enforcement personnel in the US, an 8 hour shift, and a 5-day workweek with a couple weeks off, at 3.5 hours of video per GB of data it would take about 500PB to store *all* of the video produced by every cop in the US in a year.

    At Backblaze prices (which are admittedly quite low) that would cost $60M, which, distributed among every municipality in the US, is quite modest. Even at Sun prices, it's still only $500M

    And that's if you kept a year worth of all video, rather than just the month mentioned above.

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