Body Worn Cameras

On the back of some recent news articles and interesting twitter debate, I thought I would link to Mathews Articles on BWC’s over at the AMPED Blog.

Sky News article on Security fears on BWC storage




Storage issues and concerns were highlighted in research by University of Cambridge

Links to the AMPED Blog series on BWC’s..

The Silver Bullet



Society Impact

So, after all the research, all the trials, all the ministerial promises….. After all the technical solutions and all the privacy concerns…. what do we have at the end?

A bit of a mess to be honest!

It is clear that Law Enforcement is being pushed down a road that hasn’t been finished. (I’m using that road analogy again!) It isn’t really ready to handle the rapidly developing technology or adequately manage the huge amounts of digital Multimedia Evidence. It’s struggling to put something in place because its been told to do so, and then doesn’t have the finances to do it properly.

As Matthew states in his Conclusion, after looking at the impact on society, the whole thing is being done the wrong way round.

…and because of that, there will be mistakes during these early years. Evidence will be of poor quality, evidence will be lost or deleted accidentally. Video will be processed incorrectly and integrity issues will be raised. Just as the public ask questions as to why a piece of CCTV is so poor, those same questions will be asked of BWV.

Lets quickly look at one of the issues mentioned here.. Integrity.

Throughout the entire lifespan of a piece of recorded video, the original data itself cannot change. If it gets transcoded when it gets cut or trimmed, it has to be logged and recorded. If not,the integrity could be called into question. Why? Well, as Matthew again states in the Amped series, there will be a lot of video that requires analysing in order for it to be interpreted properly. The enhancement of certain aspects of the video will, in many cases, assist in this process. When unnecessary and potentially damaging transcoding takes place before it gets to an analyst, any work afterwards is either going to be made a lot harder or even worse, call into question the integrity of all that hard work. A scientific and structured process must be used in order to ensure transparency and evidential admissibility.

What’s needed then?

One word – PATIENCE.

By not rushing into things and conducting small but lengthy trials, Law Enforcement will be in a better position to evaluate all the issues before making important decisions.

Its therefore very important that those people in IT departments and project teams who are tasked with implementing these trials need to listen to those people who deal with video from an evidential point of view – the Forensic Video Analysts.

By Spreadys Posted in EEPIP

6 comments on “Body Worn Cameras

  1. Well done for collecting these articles into one place, unfortunately there has been a rush to equip officers with the cameras with little thought for managing the material.

    So far I have experienced the same issues with BWC footage as we often see with proprietary CCTV footage in that the CJS thinks that as long as the material can be easily viewed then that is all that is required so they are happy with the DVD format produced by the police (typically).

    Getting the CPS to provide a copy of the original material is at best very difficult and at worst impossible as it no longer exists. With solicitors fees being continually squeezed they are less inclined to spend time pursuing a request for a copy of the original material.

    There is often a lack of understanding by investigators and solicitors as to why it is necessary for a copy of the original format to be analysed and what effect the conversion to the DVD format can have on the image content. Until forces fully accept that video material should be treated in the same way as other forensic samples we will struggle to use it effectively in the CJS.

  2. Don’t get me started on BWV, David!
    If ever we needed a demonstration of how topsy turvy the world of Body Worn Video really is, in the US, the American Civil Liberties Union actually supports the use of a technology, which not that long ago they would perhaps have considered as a potential threat to their very constitution … or so I’ve been told.
    In the last day or two, West Yorkshire Police have announced that they will no longer be using a Cloud solution for storing their BWV recordings, whilst yet another large US manufacturer has just launched their own Cloud storage offering.
    I suppose the politically accelerated roll out of BWV, is in some respects not that dissimilar to the early days of Public Space Surveillance, where successive UK Governments shovelled hundreds of millions of pounds into pump priming the adoption of Town Centre CCTV schemes, without any background research or knowledge into the use of appropriate technologies, and no long term plan for sustaining the huge amount of funding needed to keep the systems going when they eventually approach the end of their working life.
    With BWV, huge amounts of money are being invested in acquiring the units, whilst the more significant challenge of storing with “integrity”, is for some an avoidable cost too far, particularly as cheaper solutions work just as well …. don’t they?
    It’s interesting to consider that despite all the potential problems and issues surrounding the use of what is not even a new technology, little effort seems to be expended in considering where is the eventual conclusion to this current exercise in politically driven transparency; albeit in the guise of various other potential payback streams.
    Politicians and civil libertarians cite more police accountability (somewhat ironic if one considers the potential impact on privacy), Police refer to achievable cost saving both in the CJS ( possibly, notwithstanding the issues raised by Dave ), and a reduction in vexatious claims …. and so it goes on.
    We’re already seeing an increasing uptake of BWV amongst cyclists and bikers in London, and no doubt with the passage of time, not only will we see an enthusiastic adoption of personalised high value body cams for the young and trendy, but within 5 -7 years camera snatching may well be the next growth area in street crime after mobile phone thefts.
    Like most aspects of video surveillance there is just not enough joined up thinking, and certainly the challenges of both gathering, storing and processing the huge volumes of data that will be generated in years to come, does set alarm bells ringing when it’s already barely possible to cope with much of the poor quality CCTV material already being recorded on a daily basis.
    Still. we mustn’t be seen to be standing in the way of progress!

  3. Hi, what are your thoughts on officers using BWV to record the screens of CCTV replay of evidential incidents? Haven’t spent a lot of time trawling your site to see if this has already been discussed!

  4. Pingback: Recording a CCTV Monitor – Early Intelligence or Evidential Breach of Process? |

  5. Excellent article in response on your main page! I agree with the balanced approach, I raised it as an issue within my force and it sparked some heated debate. It is something to keep an eye on – if left uncontrolled then my suggestion is it will proliferate as a beast of a problem and then it is too late when some good CCTV evidence falls over in court (or doubt is introduced unnecessarily), because that evidence has to be interrogated from the source to the final product. ISO17025 will probably sort the issue definitively anyway!

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