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Metropolitan Police are going to be equipped with body cameras

Will new tech raise accountability or merely strengthen snooping?

By Jimmy Nicholls

Wearable cameras will be issued to the Metropolitan Police in a trial scheme aimed at improving evidence collection and officer accountability.

500 AXON body cameras will be distributed among ten London boroughs, equipped with a 130 degree field of view and capable of storing 12 hours of footage.

Speaking to the BBC, Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "Our experience of using cameras already shows that people are more likely to plead guilty when they know we have captured the incident."

Citizens will be warned by police officers when they are being recorded, and officers on the beat will have stickers on their cameras alerting people.

The cameras continually record on a thirty second loop, allowing officers to grab footage before the camera is set to record normally.

Jack Hart, a press officer at the Freedom Association, said: "When many current criminal cases currently hang on the availability of CCTV footage, the lack of evidence from a body-worn camera will make prosecutions even harder."

At the end of a shift footage is uploaded to a cloud at the police station, where it can be viewed by the officer. Any footage captured will be held for a month before deletion, unless it is used as evidence.

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"You also have to entertain the idea that should a police officer wish to act in an unscrupulous manner, the first thing they’ll be sure to do is turn off their body-worn camera," Hart added.

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