City of London police can't share bodycam footage with prosecutors because of difference in IT systems

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Police in the City of London are unable to share footage from body cameras directly with prosecutors because of differences in computer software systems, it was revealed today.

Instead, police have to transfer footage onto DVDs which are then hand-delivered to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The City of London force is one of several across the UK which cannot download video to the CPS, it has emerged. Only the Met is able to share footage digitally with prosecutors, with officers now routinely submitting more than 3,000 clips a month.

The 700-strong City force, which patrols the Square Mile, is rolling out body-worn cameras to all its front-line officers and launched a trial of the system early last year.

Researchers from the London Metropolitan University were employed to examine the effectiveness of the cameras and look at officers’ attitudes to the new technology.

The study, released today, found that a big majority, 83 per cent of 149 officers questioned, welcomed the introduction of cameras but several highlighted frustration that they could not share footage with the CPS.

One officer remarked: “The only thing we weren’t taught, which still hasn’t gone live yet, is how we send data to CPS.” 

The report by two criminologists headed by Dr James Morgan from the London Met said the failure to synchronise the systems inhibited “successful policing outcomes”.

Researchers found that the cameras had not led to more efficient justice in the City, with figures showing only a slight increase in the number of guilty pleas submitted following their introduction.

The study suggested that because technology was not available to send footage to the CPS, the evidence was not routinely available in court. A City police spokesman said: “This is a national issue which affects a number of forces and is currently being addressed, and a system is currently being developed to allow the direct transfer of footage.”

Digital policing chief constable Andy Marsh said forces were working on ways to share footage wirelessly.

In other findings the London Met university study recorded that the number of complaints from the public about incivility or oppressive conduct halved during the trial period, though the numbers were small — down from 11 and 10 in 2014 and 2015 to five during the trial period in 2016. All but one of those five complaints were dismissed.

Some officers said having a camera had a calming effect on confrontational situations and backed up their evidence, debunking malicious complaints.

Some said the cameras were also useful in prosecuting minor crimes such as motorists or cyclists breaking red lights when in the past it was often one person’s word against another’s.

One officer said: “We have all had trouble in proving that someone is drunk, violent, or abusive.

“That is usually what we deal with on Friday, Saturday, Thursday, Wednesday nights even … with the body camera it will be good to have the footage to back up what I’m saying.”

Dr Morgan said: “There have been assumptions about cop culture which see the police as resistant to change but we found a group of officers who very much wanted to have their side of the story told.”

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