More than 2,000 police officers now wear body cameras – and it may have led to a reduction in the number of people being Tasered.
West Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle says people modify their behaviour when people are told they are being filmed by cops.
The force says body worn cameras are used by Response, Neighbourhoods, PCSOs, Specials, CID, Firearms Officers and other operations staff such as Dog Handlers, Mounted and Safer Roads.
They have invested over £2m in the technology and it’s led to improvements.
ACC Battle is leading the work and says: “These devices undoubtedly play a crucial role in the future of policing and members of the public now see them routinely worn as part of our daily business.
“Their introduction has marked a sea change in the way we are able to go about our work, ensuring the most vulnerable remain safe and feel safe.”
In 2013 Tasers were deployed but not discharged 229 times – however they were used 71 times.
It peaked in 2014 when they were fired 81 times.
By 2017 Tasers were drawn 282 times and fired just 57 times.
In January this year, the most recent figures to date, Tasers were drawn 42 times and fired just eight times.
ACC Battle added: “They are helping to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, through the integrity and the corroboration of evidence, acting as an ‘independent witness’.
“Likewise, we have seen instances where their use has led to early guilty pleas. This means a reduction in the need for victims, witnesses and the police in West Yorkshire to attend court.
“When officers have worn the cameras, there is also evidence that people’s behaviour has changed when they know they are being filmed and that incidents are resolved more effectively.”
The phased roll out began with a pilot of the devices in the Bradford district in May 2016.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson invested over £2 million pounds from a ‘Transformation Fund’ to support the body camera project.