Queensland Police to trial Cop Cam
From July 1 police in Townsville and Toowoomba will conduct a trial of body mounted cameras for six months.
At a cost of approximately $200 each, the cameras clip on to the shirt of officers in order to record evidence that can be used in court to prosecute offenders or even in defence of allegations made against police.
Northern Region Police Union representative Sergeant Mick Gerrard based in Townsville said police welcomed the new technology.
''We've been calling on the commissioner (Bob Atkinson) for some time now to introduce all types of surveillance, we have nothing to fear from it, they're irrefutable evidence to what occurred during an incident.'' '' Sgt Gerrard said.
Sgt Gerrard disagrees with the trial though; in fact he believes the cameras should be implemented permanently instead of using the six-month trial.
''I don't know what we have to gain with a trial? Are we going to see if the cameras actually work and record things?'' he said.
''We don't think we necessarily need a trial of these things, they should be rolled out. I just see the trial as a way to stymie that roll-out and save funds. It's a cost-saving exercise.''
He said officers had begun resorting to buying their own recorders in a bid to defend against wild accusations from the public.
Sgt Gerrard said. ''They make outlandish claims now and most of our members have to purchase their own digital recorders and look after their own digital files in relation to it.''
But Sgt Gerrard admits that the new technology to be trialled would not be foolproof.
''It doesn't mean because somebody doesn't capture it, an allegation could be substantiated,'' he said. ''In a scuffle, in a disturbance or an arrest situation digital recorders have deactivated because in the process of the scuffle, the stop button's been pressed.
''It's not intentional and no one is more disappointed than police when it hasn't been captured.''
A recent police union journal article featured the cameras this month by Brisbane prosecutor Sergeant Mark Lyell who said they would provide irrefutable evidence, defence against false claims, protect police, aid professionalism and accountability and the footage could be used as a training tool.
In response to an article in the Townsville Bulletin on this issue, one of the major issues raised by the public was “How to police the police” so to speak, meaning the opportunity exists for police to erase damming evidence of their own actions prior to a case making it to court.
The question was raised as to what measures of accountability would be put in place for such actions or indeed if it was possible to implement security measures on the cameras to prevent this from being possible. Perhaps these questions will be answered in the trial?