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Ministry of Justice to Spend £12 Million on Body Cameras for UK Prisons

“Findings from international research suggest that use of cameras can lower rates of assaults in prisons, by increasing accountability and transparency"

By claudia glover

The Ministry of Justice has tendered a £12 million contract for the production of body cameras for the HM Prison and Probation Services (HMPPS).

The manufacturer when commissioned will need the capability to deploy 6000 cameras over 114 sites covering Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

Apart from the HPPS, the Home Office is also mentioned in the tender document as a “place of performance”, specifically the Border Force and Police Forces.

Accessories for Body Worn Video Cameras (BWVC) mentioned in the tender are attachment to officer uniform, docking stations and end user devices for managing the assignment of cameras. (awkward)

Body Cameras in UK Prisons

This move appears to be part of the HMPPS Violence Reduction Project, which has the “aim of reducing levels of assaults against staff and prisoners”.

According to a report released by the MoJ on April 30:

“Findings from international research suggest that use of cameras can lower rates of assaults in prisons, by increasing accountability and transparency, reducing staff reporting workloads, enhancing evidentiary capability and acting as a potential behaviour change mechanism.

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“As such, HMPPS piloted the use of Body Worn Video Cameras (BWVCs) to investigate how their use might serve to keep staff and residents safe in the prisons of England and Wales”.

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The research included a pilot study conducted by the HPPS which found that, amongst difficulties in getting prisoners and police to take part in the surveys themselves, that “overall there were no statistically significant differences between the pilot and the comparator sites”.

In the pilot, the appearance of BWVCs appeared to decrease assaults but increase “use of force events” in small numbers.

The overall findings from the survey conducted at the end of the pilot showed that:

“whilst overall staff felt safer after the cameras were introduced, scores pre and post pilot on the safety variable for prisoners remained the same; prisoners did not feel safer”.

Body Cameras in Schools

While facial recognition software has been falling out of favour this month, it appears that surveillent tech on the whole is doing well institutionally.

Not only are there indicators of national adoption of body cameras in UK prisons, but three secondary schools in England piloted the use of BWVCs to crack down on bad behaviour earlier this year.

A case study conducted by body camera production company Reveal stated the positive results of the study, as the head teacher of an unnamed school in South Hampshire was quoted:

“We’re definitely going to keep going with the cameras. It’s not something we can come back from because of what it has done for us as a tool to safeguard our students”.

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