In its first published report Greater Manchester’s Independent Ethics Committee examines the ethical dilemmas around the police use of body-worn video to gather images and audio that can later be used as evidence.
They found that the technology could help improve the criminal justice journey for victims of domestic abuse, by gathering crucial evidence to make it easier and quicker to get a conviction, and relieving the pressure on victims who don’t feel able to attend court.
However, there were also concerns that the use of body worn video could exacerbate already volatile situations that the use of discretion around whether to record or not record could be abused by police officers.
Members of the committee spoke to young people, community groups and police officers across Greater Manchester to gather their views on the pros and cons of the technology. The committee considered a number of issues including officer’s use of discretion, how the use of body-worn video affects vulnerable victims and the wider impact on the police’s relationship with the public.
The committee makes 14 recommendations to GMP including:
- Police should use discretion whether to continue recording vulnerable victims, with the presumption that recording will continue but with the video directed away from the victim so audio is still captured.
- Images captured of innocent bystanders, including children, should by obscured when used for evidence.
- Victims of domestic abuse should be given the option of reviewing the video recording.
- Recordings of anti-social behaviour and other offending, such as domestic abuse, should be replayed to perpetrators at a later date to act as a deterrent against future incidents.