Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire fire service begins use of body-worn cameras

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA trial camera captured images of explosions at a fireworks store in Southampton

A fire service has claimed to be the first in Great Britain to fully deploy helmet-mounted cameras.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) said officers would wear the devices to give them "a more complete picture of incidents".

The service said video would also help officers evaluate their performance.

But the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned that it could "compromise the neutrality" of firefighters and act as a disciplinary tool.

Image copyright Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said the cameras would make firefighters and the public safer

FBU executive council member Tam McFarlane said: "We have a level of trust with communities in deprived areas where we do a lot of public safety work.

"Our fear is that if we are to wear cameras it would automatically raise suspicions.

"With fires you could probably learn a lot from cameras but, if it was day-to-day activity, they could compromise firefighters' neutrality."

Mr McFarlane said video from body-worn cameras could also be used as evidence in disciplinary cases against firefighters.

But the union's secretary in Hampshire, Gary Jackson, said: "We don't have any concerns. They will increase safety and increase the learning experience."

Image copyright Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption The service said the cameras would be used for "reflective learning... and fire investigation".

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was the first in the country to be handing out body-worn cameras to officers.

The service said footage collected during a pilot scheme provided video evidence of a suspected arsonist and had been used in an investigation into a boat fire.

In May, a trial camera captured images of explosions at a fireworks store in Southampton.

HFRS operational technology manager Alex Rhodes said: "New body-worn cameras are going to help every firefighter be the best they can be and embrace the fact we are, as all fire services are, a learning organisation."

Assistant chief officer Andy Bowers said: "We will use them for reflective learning, training, incident analysis and fire investigation.

"They will make the public and firefighters of Hampshire safer."

Firefighters in Plymouth trialled head cameras in 2007 to monitor anti-social behaviour surrounding bonfire night, but the pilot was not extended.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites