Body cameras 'could improve evidence' says chief constable

body camera
Image caption Sir Stephen said cameras could improve the quality of evidence

Scotland's Chief Constable has said officers wearing body cameras could help improve the quality of evidence when cases are brought to court.

Sir Stephen House said that his personal view was that the police should be examining the potential for using body cameras.

But he said the public would need to be consulted before any changes.

Sir Stephen was speaking at the launch of a campaign to highlight the increase in domestic abuse at Christmas.

He said that the evidence in domestic abuse cases had to be strong.

Image caption Sir Stephen House was speaking at a campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse around Christmas time.

In north east Scotland, officers already routinely wear body cameras, as they were used under the former Grampian Police service.

However, Sir Stephen emphasised that there would have to be a debate led by the Scottish Police Authority before they were introduced elsewhere, to ensure that the Scottish public were "comfortable" with officers wearing them as a matter of routine.

He added: "What we want to see is more use of the evidence that they produce."

He added that Police Scotland wanted to work towards using digital evidence, "so we can actually just play the tape - what did the police see at the scene, what actually happened, what can we see, what can we hear".

Unhappy Christmas

The festive period is a peak time for incidents of domestic abuse and Sir Stephen said children were particularly vulnerable.

Police Scotland was called to more than 42,000 domestic incidents between 1 April and 16 December this year and children were at home in one third of those cases.

Sir Stephen believes that hundreds of children across Scotland would witness domestic abuse in the home this Christmas.

"The biggest victims of domestic abuse are often the smallest", he said.

"Children are often the unacknowledged victims of domestic abuse, yet for them the effects can be lifelong and devastating."

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Justice Secretary Michael Matheson was also at the campaign launch.

He emphasised the government's commitment to tackling domestic violence and supporting victims.

"All aspects of our criminal justice system now see this as a priority, and that's why the message is a very clear one - domestic violence will not be tolerated in Scottish society", he said.

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