Lancashire police integrate body-worn video into digital policing app

Lancashire Constabulary has integrated more than 2,000 body-worn video (BWV) cameras with a digital policing app to make it easier for frontline officers to capture, file and retrieve video evidence while out in the field.

BWV technology was first introduced to the force in 2014, when a limited number of cameras were supplied to operational policing staff.

Prior to the integration of these two technologies, police officers would record BWV clips throughout their shift before tagging them at the station once it had ended – a manual and time-consuming process that could create delays or inaccuracies. Now, frontline teams can view lists of recordings stored on the camera, tag the recording using data from their app, and link to incidents on the go.

Both the BMV cameras and the digital policing app Pronto – which was developed in collaboration with police forces to replace officers’ traditional paper notebooks – are provided by Motorola Solutions.

Specifically, Pronto allows officers to fill in reports directly on their mobile devices for incidents such as crimes, road collisions and traffic tickets, as well as to fulfil administrative tasks in the field without returning to the police station.

“This investment is about giving our officers the best tools we can for the job, making it quicker and more efficient and improving the quality of evidence, so we can provide a great service to citizens,” said Dave Hannan, chief inspector at Lancashire Constabulary.

“The roll-out of this technology will be a vital tool in bringing offenders to justice, especially those who take part in crime that is naturally more difficult to prosecute such as domestic abuse and public order offences.”

The force further claimed the new integration helps officers to significantly speed up their decision-making and evidence capture, as well as maintain accountability and transparency with the public.

“Integrated body-worn camera solutions are a vital and objective tool for improving the safety of officers and the public. The integration with the Motorola Solutions Pronto digital policing application takes seamless policing to the next level and ensures end-to-end workflows,” said Fergus Mayne, country manager UK and Ireland at Motorola Solutions.

However, despite claims that BMV is an “objective tool” that promotes accountability and transparency within policing, a trial of BWV conducted in November 2015 by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) alongside Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime, the College of Policing and the Home Office, found that the technology had little-to-no impact on several areas of policing.

For example, it revealed the cameras had “no overall impact” on the “number or type of stop and searches”, “no effect” on the proportion of arrests for violent crime, and “no evidence” that the cameras changed the way officers dealt with either victims or suspects.

It added that although body-worn videos can also reduce the number of allegations against officers, this “did not reach statistical significance”.

The Guardian reported in October 2020 that Scotland Yard had decided not to routinely release its own BMV footage of controversial incidents after internal reviews showed errors by officers.

The report was based on a leaked internal memo, which said the incidents captured by the cameras recorded examples of “poor communication, a lack of patience and a lack of de-escalation before use of force is introduced”.

In their book, Police: a field guide, which analyses the history and methods of modern policing, authors David Correia and Tyler Wall argue that such technologies are inherently biased towards the police perspective.

“Remember that body-worn cameras are tools organised, controlled and deployed by the police. How should they be used? When should they be used? Where should they be used? These are all questions answered exclusively by police,” they said.

“Any police reform demand that includes a call for police to wear body cameras is a call to invest total oversight authority of police with police.”

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