Sussex Police buys 78 hands-free cameras

Posted On 16 Aug 2011 at 11:49 pm

A trial to test hands-free cameras has proved so successful that Sussex Police has bought 78 of them.

The force said that the body-worn videos are capturing crucial evidence needed in domestic abuse investigations.

This had helped officers to secure convictions and bring justice for victims.

The 5in cameras are overtly displayed on an officer’s uniform and capture actions and conversation that take place during an incident.

The footage can then be used to prove or disprove what took place and can be used as evidence in court.

They were tested by a small number of officers for several months and are now being introduced across the force at a cost of £45,000.

Among the officers to be issued with the cameras will be those working in the anti-victimisation unit (AVU) in Brighton.

Initiative

They have been wearing the cameras throughout Operation Lantern, a two-month initiative in June and July aimed at improving the way that officers initially respond to reports of domestic abuse.

During the operation AVU officers have been responding to incidents along with uniformed officers, helping to improve the specialist skills needed to gather evidence and support victims of domestic abuse.

Detective Inspector John Wallace said: “Victims of domestic abuse are offered continued support by specialist officers throughout the investigation and court process, yet they will often retract their statement, which makes securing a conviction extremely challenging for the investigation officer.

“The victim may be afraid to give evidence or want to protect their partner, as they see conviction as a prison sentence and a further breakdown of their family unit.

“In many cases drug and alcohol abuse plays a key role.

“Many victims will only support a prosecution in the hope that their partner receives the proper support and medical attention needed to overcome their addiction, as the courts can order an offender to regularly attend meetings and receive the proper support to tackle these issues.

“We encourage victims to make best use of their victim statement so that their circumstances are taken into consideration, yet sadly many victims will still withdraw from this process at a later stage.

Protect

“As police officers we have a duty to protect victims and children from harm and will still pursue prosecution, which is why it is crucial to gather evidence early in the investigation.

“The evidence captured on body-worn video can help bring these cases to court and can prove incredibly compelling to a jury, as they can see for themselves the behaviour of the offender at the time of the incident, the fear and distress of the victim, and tragically in some cases the affect on children who have witnessed the abuse.”

Sussex Police said: “It is estimated that 80 per cent of domestic abuse cases go unreported.

“By the time someone reports being the victim of domestic violence, on average they have already been a victim 39 times.”

Chief Inspector Julia Pope, responsible for the introduction of the cameras across the force, said: “This footage often captures the behaviour of offenders during an incident which can then be played back to them following their arrest.

“It also lets the offender see how their behaviour has affected their victim and others in the vicinity.”

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