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How will body-worn cameras affect the motoring world?

The announcement that police will wear cameras while on duty has caused quite a stir in the media recently. Mixed opinions have appeared online, with some people convinced that their introduction will be beneficial to all concerned, while others believe that only the police will benefit. From the public’s perspective, these cameras will theoretically encourage trust in officers, as well as minimising confusion over what has happened during controversial incidents. These cameras will be able to provide indisputable evidence in a way that human witnesses cannot.

Research undertaken in an area of California where cameras have already been issued, suggests that they could be quite the success. With an 88% decrease in complaints filed against officers, and a 60% reduction in occasions where officers made use of force, their use seems entirely justified; however, the public is sceptical.

The primary concern voiced across the internet has been that police officers will be at liberty to turn these cameras off at any given time. In fact, it appears that they will be expected to have them off the majority of the time, only switching them on when an incident is anticipated. This gives a credible excuse for missing evidence.

On the other hand, concerns have arisen over how these cameras may invade privacy. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) warns that before introducing these devices in more areas, councils should consider whether there is, in fact, a requirement for the footage these cameras would capture. They also point out that the public will need to be made aware of, and appropriately informed of, the use of these cameras. While the view may be extreme, there are those who have pointed out similarities to the world in which George Orwell’s 1984 was set. In particular, parents may be concerned about their children’s day-to-day lives being captured on camera.

So how, exactly, do these cameras affect you as a motorist?

Marcus Jeter, a driver in the USA, was charged with eluding police, resisting arrest, and assault in 2012. While there was evidence to the contrary recorded by a dash camera, this was initially buried as it reflected poorly on the police, who had brutally beaten him and dragged him from his car. Similarly, a police car hit an SUV, and then arrested the man in it, in order to cover up their mistake. Luckily for Robert Jackson, the innocent man who had been sitting in the SUV, had his ordeal caught on camera. While both of these incidents occurred in the USA, there are numerous cases of British police telling equally heinous lies. It was recently found that a British officer had been demanding that speeding drivers pay on-the-spot fines when stopped. These fines were bogus, and it was uncovered that the officer was keeping the money. Will body-worn cameras bring a halt to these kinds of occurrences, or will they simply be switched off to hide the corruption?

While people appear to be worried about their privacy, how much time does the average motorist actually spend involved in controversial incidents with police officers?

Why not send us your thoughts on this issue? Tweet us at @BigMotoring, or get in touch via Facebook at BigMotoringWorld


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