London’s MET will be storing evidence gathered on body cameras indefinitely
Body cameras, first introduced more than 10 years ago, but currently used by almost 4,000 police officers across the UK, are increasingly being used by the Metropolitan Police Authority. The evidence these cameras provide is now being stored indefinitely in Microsoft Cloud, to access at a later date if necessary.
Aimed at providing transparency and increasing the confidence that local communities have in their local police force, it is hoped that the use of these body worn cameras will be rolled out to all 22,000 serving police officers across all London Boroughs. Recording up to 12 hours of footage, it is now the norm for the officers who have been wearing the cameras to remove them when in the station, and let them charge on a docking station, similar to that of an iPod. It is at this time when the footage is uploaded to the cloud platform.
The footage can be categorised to make it easier to locate if being used as evidence at a later date. The officer in charge of the camera can also make the decision to delete the footage or save it, depending on the usefulness, or it will be deleted automatically after a period of 31 days. Despite typical concerns from the public regarding the use of these cameras, it’s up to the officer when they are switched on or off and they have authority to delete footage. These cameras have so far provided valuable evidence in major criminal cases, such as murder and serious fraud.
Officers are encouraged to switch their cameras on during certain incidents, including vehicle stops, use of force and stop and search. More information on this can be found here http://www.pinnacleresponse.com/body-cameras-and-the-law/. Although not recording every incident and deleting the footage that may have been caught on camera, there are other concerns, such as the cost.
There are also issues raised surrounding the sovereignty of the data. For example, will it be possible for legal entities not involved in the prosecution of criminals to get access to it, in order to be able to influence the change of future legislation? Only time will tell. Due diligence has been done and Microsoft chosen as the cloud provider, based on reputation and adherence to UK storage laws.