West Midlands Police to live-stream body cam footage

  • Published
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It allows commanders and specialists to see what is happening and deploy reinforcements if needed

A police force has become the first UK force to switch on live-streaming on its body-worn cameras.

From Monday more than 4,000 front-line West Midlands Police officers and staff will carry the new technology.

The cameras are only used to stream during active incidents but the force said tests show it has been able to respond quicker and more effectively.

During trials they have been used at football matches and in protests and routine operations.

The cameras can only be switched on for valid operational reasons and there are strict rules about their use.

When activated, commanders or specialists elsewhere can log in to see what is happening and offer advice, or deploy reinforcements when necessary.

At the central control room in Birmingham the BBC was able to follow PCs Darren Sutton and Bethany Franklin as they were deployed to a reported robbery in Aston.

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Footage from officers can be viewed in a central control room

As they arrived at the scene, they switched their cameras on and the room was able to watch a stream showing everything as it happened.

A group of offenders had stolen about £60 from a man's flat.

He had refused to hand anything over and one of them had hit him over the head with a bottle, suffering a nasty cut on his head.

PC Franklin administered first aid while her colleague questioned the man's neighbours about what they had seen and heard.

In the control room it was clear there was no need to send any other response teams.

Ch Supt Ian Green, who has led the pilot for West Midlands Police, said: "It actually really does help.

"We'll be looking at using it in areas where we have people in crisis, so that we can get the right advice and help there, but actually as officers start to use this I think more and more ideas will come in to make us more efficient and better."

In one example from the trial, two dog experts had been able to dial in remotely to help an officer who believed he had found an animal which breached the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Instead of having to wait for them to drive from opposite ends of the force area, they were able to make a quick assessment using the live stream.

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Ch Supt Ian Green has led the pilot

The force has also released recordings of some of the incidents in which the technology was used during the trial period.

In one, an officer was able to show forensic officers the scene of a stabbing, so they were able to assess the situation and decide which areas needing searching before specialist teams arrived.

The camera footage is of such high resolution that the person viewing the scene remotely could see it better than the officer on the ground, because it was dark and raining.

In a statement, the force said it has been pleased with the results so far, adding: "We've been consulting with our communities and partners so they are fully aware of us now having the ability to live stream in public areas.

"We have carried out extensive consultation and over 90% of people told us they strongly agreed with us being able to use this new function."

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