David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Friday, April 19, 2013

Police Body Worn Video Experiment

Article Courtesy of - Jasmin McDermott - www.PoliceOracle.com

A project exploring the operational benefits of Body Worn Video (BWV) in freeing up officer time and cutting bureaucracy could instigate changes to parts of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).

Operation Hyperion is a year-long study assessing the effects and implications of the personal issue of BWV to 183 officers and PCSOs in Hampshire Constabulary up to inspector rank. One camera will be assigned to a specific officer or PCSO for the duration of the project, which will conclude in March 2014.

The project, which is the first of its kind in the country on this scale, will consider the impact BWV has on police complaints, its usefulness in the conclusion of certain crime incidents and implications on the wider criminal justice system.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies will independently evaluate the pilot during the year, including how the issuing of the devices has been implemented by the Force and officers’ understanding of the equipment.
Insp Steve Goodier, who is leading the project on the Isle of Wight, believes the evidence, which will be presented to national agencies including the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the College of Policing, could facilitate a wide-ranging change in how statements are taken under PACE.

In an interview with PoliceOracle.com he said: “I strongly believe we could make some small changes to legislation that can have a big impact on officers.

“PACE (Police & Criminal Evidence Act) was written in 1984 at a time when BWV was not around. Under PACE the interview suspects outside of custody on a voluntary basis must be held contemporaneously with the interviewee, which includes a full question-and-answer session and this has to be recorded by the officer in a written format and then signed by the interviewee as a true and accurate record.

“According to the true letter of the law, BWV cannot be used to record the interview so even if officers are wearing it they still need to write the statement which is a laborious and time consuming process.

“We want to look at ways we can use BWV to capture first accounts from people and not take written statements. If we can do this it will free up a lot of time.

“We want to get the legislation changed so that BWV could replace the need for hand written statements from officers when it is likely that an early guilty plea would be entered at court or that the incident could be dealt with a caution or community resolution."

It is hoped the results from the project, which costs £47,500, will form a strong evidence base on the plethora of benefits the devices offer and prove they can contribute significantly to operational policing.

“We want to prove the use of BWV is a viable and cost-effective way of delivering modern policing,” Insp Goodier added.

“We can justify the cost of a camera very quickly in reducing bureaucracy and freeing up police time.”

www.PoliceOracle.com will be reporting on the results of the project when they are available next year and I will update this blog accordingly.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Compensation Claim PC 'Should Not Be Vilified' says Police Federation

The Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales has spoken out against the “vilification” of an officer who considered launching a compensation claim against a victim of crime after tripping over a kerb while responding to a burglary call.

In a statement, Steve Williams (pictured) said that the action – launched by Norfolk PC Kelly Jones – had “understandably caused widespread debate”. He also pointed out that it had impacted on the wider reputation of the Police Service, and that the staff association needed to examine how it provided advice to members.

The Chairman’s comments came as Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett said that the news of the claim – which relates to a call to a garage in Thetford – had “left him cold”. He said the officer had gone “a step too far” and urged her to immediately reverse her action.

"I will be seeking a full report into the circumstances from the chief constable and I expect to be having a conversation with the Norfolk Police Federation,” he added.

But Mr Williams stressed that officers were not compensated by their forces for injuries received on duty – and that the wider public needed to understand that they could lose money through reductions in pay and allowances.

Injury could also affect promotion prospects and opportunities for specialisation.

Mr Williams said: “Let me be clear – to vilify this female officer is wrong.

“She took legal advice as to how she could claim back some of her lost earnings as a result of the injury, and at this stage no formal proceedings have taken place.

“She has been supported by my own organisation, the Police Federation, who have agreed to fund her on a conditional fee basis should the matter progress.”

Mr Williams said that the Fed needed to look at “processes and structures” on how it provided advice, claiming that PC Jones had not been prepared for the “wider personal impact” that could arise from her making a compensation claim.

The Chairman added: “The Police Federation’s structure is being independently reviewed and no doubt how we continue to provide advice in the round for our members will be examined as a result of this unusual case.

“I must underline that our local Federation representative in Norfolk worked tirelessly under the spotlight of the national and local media, advising and assisting PC Jones in every way that he could. However, it will be clear to all that this very quickly became a national policing issue beyond the local remit.

“While PC Jones may be an easy target as she is one individual within a media storm, for me it is the Police Federation that needs to be mindful of the widespread public and member perception that has arisen out of this claim.”

But the Police and Crime Commissioner said that the action had led to public anger. Mr Bett said: "As the public representative for policing in Norfolk, I share the concerns of those who have questioned the actions of this officer

"I believe she should withdraw her legal action as soon as possible. In my mind, that would be the right thing to do and, judging from what people have been telling me, what the public would want to see.”

Article Courtesy of - Cliff Caswell - www.policeoracle.com