Body worn cameras and warnings over privacy

There have been growing concerns over privacy in Scotland with the increased use of body worn video technology by council workers. Despite concerns, these cameras are thought to have huge benefits for councils when it comes to detecting and deterring crime.

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A report from the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch revealed that Scottish councils have spent over 300,000 on body worn video technology. The concerns have come about amid claims that the councils use of these cameras is disproportionate to the crime, as it may involve the detection of trivial offences such as littering and dog fouling.

Big spenders

The council said to have spent the largest amount on body worn cameras is Renfrewshire, which has purchased an impressive 37,000 worth. In England, the largest spenders are in London; for example, Newham Council has spent over 100,000 since the technology became available.

What are the benefits of body worn video?

Body worn video technology involves the wearing of a small camera, usually on the shoulder or chest, to gain vital evidence. They are worn by the police in some boroughs and even by teachers. Ideally used as a deterrent rather than to provide evidence, the data from the cameras is remotely sent to software on a computer and usually stored for 30 days. These cameras have proved vital in many industries, notably crime prevention. Body worn video technology and software can be purchased from manufacturers that retail online, such as https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/body-worn-cameras.

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Policy recommendations

These cameras can be vital tools in deterring and detecting crime. As a result of emerging research, Big Brother Watch has released a number of policy recommendations for councils considering the use of the technology. It advises a public consultation followed by a comprehensive privacy impact assessment, which is published and promoted on the council website. It also recommends that councils undergo a trial period of using body worn video technology before implementing a permanent one. Councils that follow these policy recommendations will be able to enjoy the benefits of such cameras without impacting on the civil liberties of their constituents.

The debate will continue; however, the sensible compromise seems to be that councils should adhere to the policy recommendations to ensure that they are enjoying the benefits of such technology whilst reducing the impact.


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