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UEL criminologist finds that 'body worn cameras' are important part of the future of policing 


Dr Mark Roycroft publishes new book based on interviews with dozens of senior police figures

A landmark new book by a senior police officer-turned-academic criminologist reveals that many of Britain’s most senior police chiefs and commissioners think ‘body worn cameras’ (BWC) - small cameras attached to police officers - are very important and have a big impact on policing, justice, and safer neighbourhoods. 
Dr Mark Roycroft, a criminologist at the University of East London (UEL), interviewed 35 senior police personnel in the UK for his new book, Chiefs in the UK: Politicians, HR Managers or Cops? The book contains a number of insights into police work, including the discussion on body worn cameras.
Dr Roycroft said, “The use of body worn cameras and video recorders was discussed by all police and crime commissioners and police chiefs, with large numbers believing they could be used as a method to speed up the criminal justice system.
“Camera footage can be good evidence and suspects plead guilty more often when an officer wears one, which means there is no need for cases to go to court for trial. This was noted by several of the senior police I interviewed.”
Other chiefs said that officers in rural areas felt the cameras improved safety. One commissioner said BWCs had led to a 50 per cent decrease in complaints against officers in his region. 
A 2016 British university study found a 93 per cent decrease in complaints made against officers clearly wearing the cameras.
The book says Cheshire Constabulary has been piloting BWCs in Warrington, and also purchased 1,700 Surface 3 Microsoft tablets to help officers process paperwork more efficiently. The tools provided an extra 340,000 hours of police time on the streets, equivalent to an extra 200 officers.
“The tablets mean incidents can be dealt with and processed there and then using the tablet. There’s no need to return to the station for paperwork,” explains Dr Roycroft, who spent 30 years in the Met police and specialised in murder cases and counter-terrorism.
BWCs are used by police services in Canada, Sweden, Hong Kong, England, and Australia. But it is London’s Met police which is taking the global lead with over 22,000 body cameras issued to front-line police officers in London. It is thought to be the largest roll-out of the cameras anywhere in the world.

Dr Roycroft's books also explores other aspects of how police work is changing and adapting.
The Met police’s ‘Four Days in August’(2012) report highlighted how the police have had to adapt very quickly to social media in protester situations. The report also noted a need for police to gather intelligence from social media and capture potential evidence on camera phones.
Dr Roycroft said, “Several police chiefs mentioned the need to deal with the demands of how new technology can affect public order, including groups like Occupy and anti-austerity marches.
One commissioner told Dr Roycroft that he hoped all police officers would soon have hand-held computers, so that police would not have to constantly return to the station to do paperwork, and could be more visible on the streets and in local communities. Another police chief predicted there would soon be a ‘virtual police force’ with monster chat rooms, cyber security, online undercover officers and an improved intelligence system.
Dr Roycroft will lead UEL’s new BA (Hons) Policing degree starting in September 2017. Students will have the opportunity to study modules in the global illicit drug trade, terrorism, youth crime, football hooliganism, and crime investigation. 
Visit the course page to find out more and apply