Body-Worn Video 101

Common law provides the police with the authority to use Born-Worn Video (BWV) in the lawful execution of their duties, for the purpose of the prevention and detection of crime.

The operational use of body-worn video must be proportionate, legitimate and necessary.

Compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and Surveillance Camera Code of Practice ensures that the use of BWV is always proportionate, legitimate and necessary. Continuous, non-specific recording however is not permitted.

BWV devices may be used to gather digital video evidence across a wide range of operational policing situations. For example, BWV may help to support the CPS to achieve enhanced sentencing to prosecute hate crime or domestic abuse offenders.

Under normal circumstances, officers should not use BWV in private dwellings. However, if a user is present at an incident in a private dwelling and is there for a genuine policing purpose, they are entitled to make a BWV recording in the same way as they would record any other incident.

BWV may be used to capture the first account of victims and/or witnesses at an incident.

Users should seek the permission of a victim prior to recording serious crime victims and witnesses, or involving children or vulnerable adults, who may be eligible for special measures. BWV may be used to capture a first account, and witnesses may be permitted to review their account prior to making and signing any written statement.

The first account is principally about determining any action that is immediately necessary.

Officers should only ask such questions as necessary to:

  • establish if an offence has been committed

  • establish where it occurred and who was responsible

  • assess the current risk to the victim(s) and witness(es)

  • identify and prioritise areas of the investigation.

Such recordings do not replace the need for formal written statements from victims or witnesses, but they can be used as supporting evidence. When users are dealing with a vulnerable adult or a child (a person under 18) as a witness or victim, the initial contact/meeting should not be recorded on BWV without obtaining permission. At the start of any recording, the user should, where practicable, make a verbal announcement to indicate that the BWV equipment has been activated.

BWV may be used when dealing with priority victims (victims of most serious crime, persistently targeted victims and vulnerable or intimidated witnesses) with their consent. BWV material provides a reasonably complete record of what its user sees and hears at an incident.

Interesting read … extracts taken from the College of Policing guide on Body-Worn Video.