Scottish Police demands bodycams after nearly 7000 officer assaults
The Scottish police federation calls for all its officers to be given bodycams after revealing staff suffered nearly 7000 assaults in the last year. According to Police Scotland, the use of bodycams could lead to a “spike in guilty pleas” as well as reducing pressure on the courts.
The force shared the news that thousands of Police Scotland officers were assaulted during the past year, revealing a total of 6942 recorded assaults on officers and staff. This is 413 more than the previous year. The police in Scotland is currently holding a national consultation to seek views on bodycams for police officers. At the moment, only officers in parts of north east Scotland have access to bodycam recorders, after being tested there in 2013 and been kept in use ever since.
Strong public support for use of bodycams
The initiative to hold a national consultation follows “positive findings” from a similar online survey held in February, in which the views of the public were sought on armed Police Scotland officers using bodycams to record certain incidents. This was one of the largest surveys carried out by the force, with 9000 responses. The results demonstrated proof of strong support from the public for the use of bodycams.
Previously, Chief Constable Livingstone already named the “pressing, critical, ethical and operational imperative” for providing armed officers with bodycams, which will now take place in time for the United nations COP26 climate change conference, which is held in Glasgow this year.
Chief Superintendent Matt Richards, who is leading on the project, states that it is already a known fact that there is strong public support for the use of body worn video. He says: “A recent public survey showed a significant majority of people who participated thought that the use of body-worn video cameras would increase trust and confidence in the police.”
Due to this positive response, Matt Richards shares that they are progressing plans to equip armed officers with body worn video cameras, which will bring Police Scotland into line with other police services in the UK.
Big step for Scottish police
Chief Superintendent Matt Richards explains that he recognises that the introduction of bodycams is a big step for Scottish policing. This is why Police Scotland has begun a formal public consultation on the introduction of bodycams to the majority of police officers and staff throughout the country.
He stresses the importance of continuing to engage with communities and involving them whenever a new technology is under consideration that has a direct impact on the public. This enables them to use their voice (which can inform police plans) and express any (ethical) concerns, so police officers can continue to do their job with the support of the public. The responses to the national consultation will help to inform protocols, training and codes of practice. This will ensure that body cameras are used in an appropriate way, which is in line with the wishes of the public. As a result, the police force will be able to better protect the public and provide the best evidence at court if necessary.