Police and the use of Body Worn Video (BWV)

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Did you know that police CANNOT record you with their Body Worn Video camera (‘BWV’) camera unless they have a specific and justified reason to do so, or there is is a specific incident in progress?

Some cops think they have a right to switch on their BWV on continuously with no justification?

As much as they may think, if a cop wants to simply speak to you, they have NO RIGHT to simply record just because they want to.  There has to be a justification for them to do so.

Every cop who uses a BWV camera must be aware of the principles of using the device.

Principle 4 says;

The operational use of body-worn video must be proportionate, legitimate and necessary. Compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998 (‘HRA’), Data Protection Act 1998 (‘DPA’) and Surveillance Camera Code of Practice will ensure the use of BWV is always proportionate, legitimate and necessary. Continuous, non-specific recording is not permitted.


So ANY cop that records you continuously and knowingly is in breach of the HRA and the DPA.

Principle 5 says;

Use of body-worn video will be incident specific. Officers will use common sense and sound judgement when using body-worn video, in support of the principles of best evidence. Officers are required to justify their use of BWV. There should be a tendency towards
capturing audio/visual evidence when deciding whether to record. Nevertheless, there are several limitations.

Incident specific suggest that each and every incident is different and should be treated as such.  This would infer that police cannot record for any other reason.  It suggests that officer (the BWV users) will use common sense and sound judgement when using such devices.  This infers the BWV users may use their own brains and not simply ‘follow orders‘ as that again breaches the principles.

The principle does give some leeway to the decision process, choosing to capture evidence… that is true.   This is a decision that should be made by the officer at the time the officer decides to record a specific incident and not a pre-determined decision, say to record within someones home without their knowledge or for any other sensitive matter the police simply choose to record for no lawful reason.

Each BWV user (officer) must be aware of these principles before being allowed to use such a device and being the users of the device, are responsible for their own actions and decisions.

There is no suggestion that police must not use their cameras, but the use is regulated, that is the reason for the above policy.  For example, the police must use camera’s when they interact in ways that support the public holding them to account.  Any interaction where the police ‘take control’ or use force etc.

What we do not support is police using their BWV to ‘gather intel‘ from within your home or, record private conversations with the general public, or even record discussions with victims who would prefer not to be recorded in breach of their human rights or the data protection rights.

The police cannot record you simply because ‘they want to’, or ‘are told to’ and they certainly cannot record inside you home without your permission or your request for them to record.


Note: You can record the police, so make sure you are recording them when you ask them to explain the principles of the BWV policy within the guidance from the College of policing guidance on BWV as most cops will have no idea of what they can or cannot do, they make it up as they go along and if you object, they will most likely arrest you and make up some random charges simply to punish you for your objection.


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