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Date Responded 18 June 2018

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked:

I would like to receive more information about the operational use of body-worn cameras (BWC) in the Northumbria Police Force. Specifically, I request further details on: 

1. The date when BWCs were first introduced (including the number of BWCs introduced and police unit) and dates and numbers of BWCs introduced to further units (if applicable).

2. Are BWC used in all or only specific instances (e.g. suspected domestic violence call outs)?

a. If only in specific instances, what are these (e.g. suspected domestic violence call outs)?

3. Is footage recorded continuously, or are the cameras switched on and off throughout an officer’s shift?

4. What is the guidance for activating the camera, and turning them off?

5. Is there officer discretion regarding when the camera should be switched on or off?

6. If yes, what guidance is provided to officers regarding their use of discretion to turn the cameras on and off?

7. If a victim of a crime is being recorded and requests that the recording is terminated, will it be?

8. If a potential perpetrator of a crime is being recorded and requests that the recording is terminated, will it be?

9. If a member of the public is being recorded and requests that the recording is terminated, will it be?

10. If an incident occurs in the presence of an officer wearing a camera, and no footage is recorded, will this trigger any further action or consequence e.g. requirement to undertake further training?

11. Are all camera-wearing officers required to undertake training on how to use and operate them? Please give information on the content, duration, and the frequency of training.

12. Please provide a copy of the specific guidance document that outlines operational procedure and usage.

13. Has the use of police BWC in the Northumbria police been evaluated? If yes, we formally request a copy of the evaluation report. 

In Response:

We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention. 

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted within Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police. 

I am able to disclose the located information to you as follows. 

1.Northumbria Police first introduced Body Worn Video cameras early 2015, the consisted of 120 camera units. In April 2016 a further 180 devices

were purchased. These were primarily for 24/7 response officers on a pool issue basis and Operation Sanctuary staff, however a number of different

roles and functions  (including neighbourhood officers, operational teams etc.) now have access to the devices.

In 2017 a further 40 devices were purchased.

Firearms Support Unit (FSU) have access to a further 70 devices.

Total estate currently 410 units 

  1. The camera should be switched on when footage might support ‘professional observation’ or would corroborate what would be written in a police

issue pocket book (PNB), whether or not the product recorded is ultimately required for use in evidence.

The decision to record or not to record any incident remains at all times with the trained user. However users must be mindful that failing to record an incident which would have been of evidential value may require an explanation in court or any subsequent internal investigations/audits.

Force Policy dictates that BWV trained officers MUST activate their device when attending all domestic related incidents including their approach to the scene. 

3&4. The camera should be switched on when footage might support ‘professional observation’ or would corroborate what would be written in a police issue pocket book (PNB), whether or not the product recorded is ultimately required for use in evidence.

BWV devices do not record continuously in order to minimise collateral intrusion. Each recording should be incident specific and justifiable by the user. 

5 & 6.   The College of Policing Principle 1 states that the use of BWV, by the police, is lawful. The use of BWV by Northumbria Police is being

introduced for a legitimate policing purpose and in principle users are not required to obtain the expressed consent of the person or persons being filmed.

The video recording will not necessarily be ceased at the request of a member of the public. It is for the user to consider on a case-by-case basis whether or not to switch the BWV off. There should always be a tendency to record (within the confines of legislation) unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

Users are to be cognisant when using BWV cameras in sensitive areas, i.e. hospitals, police stations and refuges, etc. Users should adopt a common sense approach and take particular care not to record anything which may:

Risk the security or safety of any person, premise or property

Negatively affect the on-going care or treatment of any person

Unnecessarily inflame/provoke a situation

The filming in domestic circumstances could be an issue with some cultural and religious beliefs. An example may be where a female in her home may not dress as she would usually in public e.g. wearing head or face coverings. Officers should be aware of this fact and be practical and sensitive to wishes of those involved in these incidents.

There are a few instances where recording should not be undertaken  

7, 8 &9. The College of Policing Principle 1 states that the use of BWV, by the police, is lawful. The use of BWV by Northumbria Police is being

introduced for a legitimate policing purpose and in principle users are not required to obtain the expressed consent of the person or persons being

filmed.

The video recording will not necessarily be ceased at the request of a member of the public. It is for the user to consider on a case-by-case basis whether or not to switch the BWV off. There should always be a tendency to record (within the confines of legislation) unless circumstances dictate otherwise.  

  1. The decision to record or not to record any incident remains at all times with the trained user. However users must be mindful that failing to record

an incident which would have been of evidential value may require an explanation in court or any subsequent internal investigations/audits. 

  1. Only officers who have received the appropriate training are authorised to use the equipment. Officers must sign the training register to confirm

that they have received the training and understood the terms of use. The current training is being reviewed. 

12.   As the information you have requested is accessible by other means I have not provided you with a copy of the information and will rely on Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  You should therefore consider this a refusal for your request. 

I have provided an explanation to this exemption below. 

Section 21 (1) - Information accessible by other means 

Information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant is exempt information.

BWV policy is published on the  Northumbria Police website and is therefore freely available.

To assist I have provide the relevant link below 

https://www.northumbria.police.uk/media/8817572/foi-1289-16-policy.pdf 

13.  No information held.  There has been no formal evaluation conducted by Northumbria Police. 

Further information on this subject, and others,  that may be of interest can be found on the College of Policing website 

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