Police body cameras to assist vulnerable women
Police body cameras are to arm prosecutors with new tools to tackle domestic violence and protect victims, commissioner Stephen Corbishley has revealed.
The move was welcomed by the Centre Against Abuse, which is fielding greater numbers of reports this year, according to Laurie Shiell, the executive director.
Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the office was “keen to expand the use of CCTV or bodycam footage in a variety of cases — including where witnesses are reluctant to make a statement or give evidence”.
Mr Corbishley told The Royal Gazette that body cameras introduced in 2015 have now been issued to all frontline officers.
Officers wear the cameras over their body armour and it uploads to a server.
He said police were “seeking increased resources to deal with vulnerable people, whether victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other forms of exploitation”.
He added: “Officers will quite often come into contact with a victim who has injuries, who is clearly distressed, and the camera is able to capture that.
“On occasion, the victim will want to withdraw their statement for a variety of reasons, not least that they may have gotten back together with the offender.
“What video evidence allows us is to consider the safety of the victim, and in some cases consider progressing the prosecution solely on the basis of the video evidence that we have secured.”
Ms Shiell, who said she had never seen the devices used to prosecute domestic violence offences, said the video would provide “a great help”.
Ms Shiell said there had been “a lot of sexual assault cases this year — and it’s been drug and alcohol-related, even with children”.
She added: “Every case we see, we know there are way more out there.”
Victims would be spared having to give extra statements after recording their exchange with officers at the scene, she said.
“More victims will be more likely to move forward with prosecutions if you have that video where they don’t have to be in court.”
According to Mr Mussenden, the DPP has used video footage from CCTV “for several years now, including in cases where there were reluctant witnesses”.
Mr Mussenden said: “We take domestic violence cases seriously, as does the commissioner.
“We are keen to support his views about the use of video footage in cases where witnesses are reluctant to participate in the process.
Further, we wish to see a decline in such cases as people in relationship difficulties should seek assistance from families, friends or professional counsellors.”
Mr Corbishley said he had arranged to speak with Ms Shiell, and would discuss the matter further with the DPP.
The commissioner added: “In my experience in the UK, we often find with domestic abuse victims that their immediate response to police is powerful evidence to demonstrate not solely the physical abuse suffered, but to identify psychological and other trauma.”