Mayor of London Boris Johnson has confirmed that London police officers will be given 20,000 body-worn cameras to wear while on the beat as part of a £200m technology strategy overhaul taking place at the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).
The move comes after the successful trial of the 1,000 body cameras used across 10 boroughs by the MPS as well as by armed response teams. The Mayor's Office said that around 6,000 videos are uploaded every month.
The footage is kept for 30 days if it is not marked as 'evidential' before being deleted in line with Home Office guidelines.
Johnson explained that neighbourhood police officers will be given the cameras in an effort to improve the fight against crime and gather better evidence at incidents as they unfold.
"This is exciting technology that will build trust, help the police do their jobs, and allow the public to hold officers more accountable," he said.
"Our plans for the rollout of body-worn video will make the technology available to more officers in a single city than anywhere else in the world, and is a giant step towards a truly 21st century police force for London."
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime will begin a procurement process for 20,000 new devices in the summer and lead a "London-wide public engagement exercise" to explain to people how the cameras work and why they are being used.
The move towards the use of body-worn cameras was also welcomed by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who described it as a vital modern technology in the fight against crime.
"For too long our equipment has lagged behind the technology almost everyone has in their pockets to capture events as they unfold," he said.
"Soon, more of our officers will be able to make a record of the very challenging circumstances they are asked to deal with on a daily basis and then demonstrate, more effectively, the reality of policing our capital.
"It will also improve public scrutiny of how we carry out our role. That is a vital part of being an accountable police officer. It is also an essential tool in gathering evidence of offences."
The move is part of the £200m technology overhaul announced by the MPS in February 2014 which also includes a major focus on the use of tablets such as the iPad.
Adrian Hutchinson, mobile technology lead at the MPS, told V3 earlier this year that the iPads had an immediate impact on officers and investigations.
"We are a modern crime fighting machine, but our officers still have to make hand-written statements and then type them up back at the office. This doesn't give the image of an overly efficient system," he said.
"With the iPads, officers can take statements electronically, embed images, get people to sign with a fingerprint and load all this into the system on the scene instantly."
The move is being welcomed by law and order officials, but yet more state surveillance will cause concerns among civil liberty campaigners and rights activists.
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