Police forces in England & Wales should consider publicising and sharing more body-worn video footage on social media to show the reality of policing and give the full story behind interactions between police and the public, says the Federation National Chair.
As the popularity of the public sharing selective & edited video clips of police interactions on social media grows, concerns have been raised regarding the detrimental effect it can have on the public’s perception of the police.
There have been several high-profile incidents recently where only partial footage – often recorded by a member of the public – has been uploaded to social media of police interactions which often have the events which led up to the encounter omitted from the edited version of the footage.
This is often the case where officers have to use force to detain a violent, or potentially violent suspect and only the point at which officers have had to place their hands on a suspect has been recorded and subsequently uploaded to social media.
National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter said:
“What frustrates me is seeing more and more short snippets of interactions with the police and public on social media with armchair critics, who do not know the full details, making bold assumptions.
“This is incredibly damaging to policing as some people may believe this one-sided story which is being presented and undermines process we are trying to follow.
“The vast majority of police officers have body-worn video cameras which are one of the best introductions into policing in the past 10 years as they provide balance, transparency and aid with the collection of evidence to protect both officers and members of the public legally.”
He added: “I would encourage forces to publicise more body-worn video footage, bearing in mind the status of any case, so the public can see the full picture – which certainly is not the picture portrayed by some for their own means on a majority of occasions.
“Body-worn video footage shows time and time again officers are professional, proportionate and reasonable in their interactions. The Federation will continue to push for a wider roll-out of this important piece of kit.”
Wearing the cameras has also been proven to lead to a reduction in false claims against officers – research conducted by the University of Cambridge’s Institution of Criminology shows the use of BWV is associated with a 93% reduction in citizen complaints against police officers.
The cameras are also a useful deterrent for those who may be considering assaulting an officer, as their actions will be caught on camera.
Mr Apter concluded: “I know a majority of the public do support the police and we truly appreciate that – but policing is not in a great place at the moment and my colleagues who are being vilified for doing a really difficult job are feeling it, and that is not a good place to be, especially when they are doing their absolute best.
“They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”
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