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From this month, police officers across Essex are being trained to record evidence of offenders in the act using small body worn cameras.
Essex Police has invested in 82 Carmacams which clip onto officers’ protective vests and, when activated, record both sound and visuals which can later be used as evidence in court.
Use of the cameras across all 14 policing districts is a first for the force and has been funded by Essex Police crime reduction, Essex County Council and some of the county’s district and borough councils and community safety partnerships.
Inspector Chris Willis hopes the cameras will act as a deterrent to those thinking about committing crime or acting anti-socially as well as supporting victims, especially those of domestic abuse, and reducing the need for witnesses to give evidence at court.
He said: “The cameras will primarily be used in cases involving anti-social behaviour, public order and domestic abuse to create a clear and unambiguous recording.
“They will help reduce the number of incidents going to court by the police being more easily able to make charging decisions based on the recording. In other forces where the cameras are already in use, offenders have been more inclined to accept liability when they’re confronted with footage of their actions.
“The cameras also remove the need for officers to document every action in statements where the recordings provide a clear an unambiguous record of what was said and done, therefore reducing time spent on paperwork".
Offenders will be warned when a recording is going to be made and will be able to see if a camera is in use by a red light on top of the device.
The new technology will be used primarily by police officers but some PCSOs will also be trained to use the cameras.
Inspector Willis added: “I’m sure the cameras will prove a beneficial tool in our drive to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour throughout Essex.
“They have the potential to improve the quality of evidence put before court, help secure convictions and bring a higher proportion of offenders to justice.”
Essex Police’s financial contribution towards the cameras has come from the force’s 2009 – 2010 financial year budget.