London bobbies are set to be equipped with body-worn video cameras in a pilot that will go a long way to deciding whether technology of this ilk will be widely used as a part of the policing kit of the future.
Taser International has announced that it is providing 500 Axon body-worn cameras to the Metropolitan Police Service and they will form part of a one year pilot that equips officers across nine London boroughs with the camera.
"Our Axon body-worn cameras are a game changer for law enforcement agencies worldwide and are helping police officers reduce crime and build safer communities,” said Jeff Kukowski, COO at Taser International.
Taser’s Axon body-worn camera consists of a small battery-powered device that can easily be attached to sunglasses, a cap, a shirt collar, or head mount and capture a wide-angle, full colour view of what is in front of the law enforcement officer.
The agreement also sees Taser International’s unit Evidence.com provide a backend data management system, which is where video is automatically uploaded to once it has been recorded in order to be reviewed at a later stage. End users are not able to tamper with any of the files stored online and officers using the device are unable to tamper with or alter the files either.
It is the largest urban pilot for body-worn video cameras anywhere in the world and a study cited by Taser explains that officers wearing the camera in Rialto, California saw an 88 per cent drop in civil complaints and a 60 per cent decrease in uses of force after the implementation.
A number of police departments in the United States have deployed similar self monitoring systems to police cruisers, in Boston and Los Angeles, and body worn cameras to officers in Fort Worth, Las Vegas, and New Orleans.
Taser’s contract with the MPS represents its second such agreement in the UK and readers familiar with BBC’s Traffic Cops show will have seen the company’s Axonflex camera in use to capture incidents from the officers’ point of view on the show.