Police body cameras to capture evidence of violence

Police Minister Liza Harvey, Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan and Inspectors Vic Hussey and Rob Harrison at the police forum at The Rise in Maylands last week. Picture: Lauren Pilat
Police Minister Liza Harvey, Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan and Inspectors Vic Hussey and Rob Harrison at the police forum at The Rise in Maylands last week. Picture: Lauren Pilat

INCIDENTS including domestic and family violence will be recorded by police officers wearing body-worn video (BWV) cameras with a trial starting next year.

Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan and Police Minister Liza Harvey announced last week at The Rise in Maylands that the new technology would be trialled from March for six months.

Perth response teams, Perth local policing teams and units in the Traffic Enforcement Group and Regional Operations Group will be the first to trial the BWV.

It will be compulsory for officers issued with the highly visible cameras to use them as part of standard deployment and recite a script to inform subjects they were being filmed.

Mr O’Callaghan said the initial cost of the trial cameras would be about half a million dollars with the footage captured used in court as evidence.

“Police want this because in every situation there’s a potential for someone to make a complaint about them, it’s supported by the union, they’ve been asking for it for a long time,” he said.

“Interactions, witnesses’ statements, offender statements will be captured on video and there will be no questions about what the situation was at the time because it will be available for everyone to see.

“In a family violence situation, it would enable you to record the victim and the perpetrator and the children.

“Victims often change their minds later and need to be reminded about what happened on the night so there will be a whole range of things we will be able to do that we couldn’t do before.”

Mrs Harvey said BWV would value add with people behaving better when they know they were being filmed.

“BWV is a really good way to document what actually happens,” she said.

“There’s opportunity in that for potentially more guilty pleas, less court time and a less expensive justice process.”

Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen Brown said BWV findings from other countries included additional guilty pleas, reduced assaults on police, reduced force used by police.

Mr O’Callaghan said responsibility was on the officer to turn the camera on and if it was not activated or had been turned off, there would be an internal investigation.

He said WA Police had technology to know whether the video or vision had been tampered with or erased with the vision downloaded on to a server at the station and kept on the server with security protocols so not everyone could access it.