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London police testing body-worn cameras for 'speedier justice'

Matt Brian, @m4tt

Rugged video cameras have become part of the police uniform for London officers after the Metropolitan Police kicked off a one-year trial thought to be the biggest of its kind. A total of 500 Axon Body units supplied by Taser will be distributed to officers across the capital, beginning in Camden, in the hope that it'll accelerate convictions. It follows a couple of smaller pilots that proved beneficial in doing exactly that. To calm fears that Londoners will be subjected to continual surveillance, the Met says the cameras will always be switched off (unless needed) and that they only intend to collect evidence in domestic abuse and public order incidents, or when "potentially contentious interactions" like a stop-and-search go wrong.

​Officers will be required to state when the camera is recording, with some devices having large "Video & Audio" notices displayed directly on the front. Officers in Camden will wear them from today, with further trials commencing in Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Brent, Croydon, Ealing, Havering, Hillingdon and Lewisham in the near future. Already in use by many US forces, the cameras, which offer a 130-degree wide-angle view and can capture roughly 12 hours of footage and upload it to a cloud server at the end of each shift, where it'll remain accessible for 31 days -- unless it's needed as part of a legal case.

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