Body-worn cameras should be routinely available for front line public sector workers such as ambulance staff and parking officers as well as police, according to Greater London Assembly (GLA) chairman Roger Evans.
Cameras on ambulance workers would help to deter aggressive behaviour from members of the public and increase the prosecution rate for attacks, Evans (pictured) told ComputerworldUK.
Schemes to equip parking wardens with ‘jacket cams’ in boroughs Hammersmith and Bexley should be extended to all areas of London, he added.
Met police trial
Evans said an ongoing Metropolitan Police Service (MPA) trial of body worn cameras found they can help increase confidence in the force, improve officer behaviour and cut complaints from the public.
He said the video captured could help clarify disputed incidents such as police shootings or the recent ‘plebgate’ dispute between the police and then-chief whip Andrew Mitchell.
Evans said: “We know in London that crime is coming down, but confidence is pretty stubbornly flat. We can improve that. Body worn cameras on officers will mean they are more likely to stick to procedure in confrontational situations.”
He added: “It will reduce complaints about stop and search and other contact with police at ground level, as we can see if they have been carried out procedure correctly. It also allows us to collect evidence.”
Officers in 10 London boroughs started using the new kit in May and it will eventually available to police everywhere in the capital, according to Evans.
However, he conceded: “It is not a panacea or a magic wand. It only tells us what the camera can see, not what’s happening out of sight. And it can’t tell you what the officer is thinking. So it’s not the whole story.”
Evans also hailed a new Met Police unit set up to tackle online crime dubbed ‘Operation Falcon’. The 300-strong team was formally launched in October and will focus on online fraud and theft.
The unit is badly needed as 70 percent of all fraud committed in London has a ‘cyber enabled’ element and online fraud is up by 40 percent year on year, Evans said.
However he expressed concern over whether the MPS has the technical skills to properly tackle the growing online threat.
Evans said: “Officers will have to develop more in the way of technical skills to be able to confront a new generation of criminals.”
However he said the Met had reassured the GLA they can recruit for Falcon within their own ranks, by harnessing the experience of staff already interested in IT and training existing officers.