Issues with police body-worn camera system revealed

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A freedom of information request revealed hundreds of issues with Police Scotland’s body-worn camera system.

Faults with Police Scotland’s body-worn video camera system are increasing at a time when the force is considering a national rollout, the BBC understands.

More than 300 issues were logged including the assigning of devices to officers and downloading of footage.

Numbers are low but data obtained by the BBC shows some officers called the system “inoperative” and “unusable”.

Police Scotland said most problems had been with the force’s own computers, not the cameras.

Ch Insp Nick Topping added that the number of reported defects were low considering the devices had been deployed “tens of thousands of times across four years”.

Body-worn cameras were trialled for 18 months in Aberdeen before the scheme was subsequently rolled out across the Moray and Aberdeenshire divisions in 2012.

Smaller and lighter than a mobile phone, the devices are worn on the upper body and are typically used during city centre patrols, events and drug searches.

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Some police officers believe body-worn cameras help de-escalate situations where they are dealing with aggressive people.

A freedom of information request revealed the force has 385 cameras deployed across its divisions, with an additional 49 set aside for the FoCUS team which polices football matches.

A 2014 review showed that early guilty pleas were obtained in 91% of cases where the camera footage formed part of the evidence, allowing 697 officers to be on the streets rather than in the courts.

Half of these guilty pleas were also submitted at “first calling” meaning officers did not have to prepare additional paperwork for the Crown Office.

Police Scotland officers also stated that the cameras helped de-escalate potentially dangerous situations involving aggressive individuals.

But, at a time when Police Scotland is conducting a “scoping exercise” regarding a nationwide deployment of these cameras, data obtained by BBC Scotland revealed the number of faults reported with the body-worn camera system doubled over a three-year period.

View the detailed fault report data here.

In total officers logged 302 faults in the force’s IT portal since 2013, with the number of issues doubling from 57 in 2014, to 120 in 2016.

The company that operates the system said it believed the number of reported incidents each year would indicate a failure rate of only 0.03%.

However, the number of reports could actually be greater as the force said individuals may have reported…

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