HAMPSHIRE will become the first force in the country to equip every police officer with controversial, body-worn cameras that capture evidence like never before.
But the cameras have come under fire from some sectors of the community as a threat to the trust between the police and the public.
The Home Office has awarded Hampshire Constabulary more than £360,000 to expand the use of the hi-tech cameras which will be issued to all officers and police community support officers.
Strapped to the chests of every officer, the palm-sized gadgets capture clear and crisp video and audio footage from crime scenes that can be uploaded within seconds.
The devices have faced some criticism from civil liberties group, such as Big Brother Watch, who have attacked their use for having “the potential to seriously undermine trust between the police and members of the community."
The news has been welcomed by Hampshire Police Federation which has already seen such footage used in court cases to help lock up dangerous criminals who have violently attacked officers.
The £362,800 from the Home Office is a share of £4m from the Police Innovation Fund, which has been split between eight forces.
Hampshire’s Chief Constable Andy Marsh, who is also the national policing lead for the kit, said: “Body-worn video can contribute to policing in many ways, not least as a piece of kit that supports and improves cases going to court – really telling the story of what has happened in a way many juries may not have appreciated before.”
The cameras are overt pieces of equipment, with officers duty-bound to inform those being recorded that their actions are being taped for evidence which may be used to support criminal prosecutions.
Hampshire police say any footage recorded that is not evidential will be deleted after 31 days.
John Apter, chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation, believes their use is good news for all, adding: “Even in the short period of time we have had these they have been shown to be an excellent piece of kit both for officers and the public.”