South East Wales

Gwent Police to use body cameras in Home Office trial

Police body camera
Image caption Gwent Police expects to begin using the body cameras from April this year

Body cameras are to be worn by 360 Gwent Police officers as part of a UK-wide trial of the technology.

The south Wales force has been given £155,000 to be one of six UK forces to test the system and public reaction.

Five neighbourhood police officers gave the cameras a trial run in Caerphilly during December.

The force's police and crime commissioner said the technology should strengthen criminal cases and protect police from wrongful accusations.

Image copyright Gwent Police
Image caption Five neighbourhood policing officers trialled the body cameras in Caerphilly

The £1.4m funding trial was approved by Home Secretary Teresa May, an advocate of the technology, last week.

The other police forces in the trial are Hampshire, Leicestershire, Durham, Thames Valley and the Metropolitan Police.

'Impactful and irrefutable'

Once switched on by officer, the device records what an officer sees to a hard drive. The recording can be download by the officer when back at base.

Gwent Police has another £100,000 of its own money to raise the number of officers to be trained to 360, with the first expected to be used from April.

Police commissioner Ian Johnston said: "Body worn camera evidence is impactful and irrefutable and the principles of securing and preserving evidence are enhanced by them. They will strengthen cases going to the criminal courts.

"Scientific research also supports the evidence that body worn cameras can assist in de-escalating an incident when the offenders are made aware of its presence.

"In some cases, they could also provide evidence that will help those who feel aggrieved over the way they have been treated by the police and also to help protect police officers themselves from wrongful accusations.

"I'm confident that the benefits of using these cameras and the associated technology will be realised in terms of criminal justice savings and in terms of police officer integrity and safety."

Gwent temporary deputy chief constable, Lorraine Bottomley, said: "Evidence from other force areas which have used this technology indicates that its can increase the number of early guilty pleas and successful prosecutions in relation to incidents investigated by the police.

"Other forces have also seen a decline in the number of vexatious or spurious complaints against officers which can waste a lot of precious police time and resources."

Body-worn video was first used in Britain by Devon and Cornwall Police in 2006.

Staffordshire Police says it will see all frontline officers, PCSOs and specials issued with them and claims its £350,000 investment in the technology is the biggest by any police force in Europe.

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