Thursday, July 12, 2007

The uses of helmet cams

UK police are to adopt "helmet cam" technology - a small videocamera attached to their headgear, which records thier interactions with members of the public. The primary use is to gather evidence of "public order" offences (meaning: drunk people who swear at the police), and to supplement written records of witness statements. But there's another use as well: monitoring police behaviour. Unfortunately, it seems the officers themselves will have control over what is recorded, as well as full power to delete footage - so it won't be as useful as it could be. Still, there's always the hope they'll slip up.

(While some people might see this as raising the spectre of "big brother" and a surveillance society - which in the UK is already well and truly there - I don't think its that much of an issue when they're used to record statements and police are required to tell people they're being taped. It's when they start walking around with them on all the time, recording everything they see that there's a problem).

Meanwhile, it's been suggested that if such a system was introduced here, bloggers and the media could have a field day OIA'ing footage of any controversial incident. Which might help to make the police a little more careful about how they treat us.