Law Enforcement and Body Worn Cameras; is the objective protection of citizens or police officers?
Dr Alan Beckley1
1University Of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia
The first introduction of Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) in police forces around the world was around 2005, and since then the usage has proliferated in liberal democratic countries such as the USA, UK, and Australia. The intention of the introduction of BWCs was to reduce police corruption and misconduct in operational police settings in relation to use of excessive or punitive force, ‘verballing’, racial discrimination, and other methods of process corruption. In 2019 the author published (on-line) a literature review of over 60 different studies relating to the effectiveness of BWCs (re-published 2021). That review concluded that police officers who were using BWCs were more reluctant to use necessary force when operationally required to do so, thereby exacerbating violent incidents; it did not find that BWCs achieved the desired objective of reducing police misconduct. This paper examines subsequent research into BWCs and arrives at a different conclusion; that, far from protecting the rights of citizens in police / community encounters, the only clear benefit of use of police BWCs is to reduce ‘frivolous’ complaints against police.
Alan Beckley was a police officer in the UK, serving for 30 years in Surrey Police and West Mercia Constabulary. He has authored many police-related subjects and completed assignments in the police service internationally. In 2010 he moved to Australia as Senior Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Australian Graduate School of Policing. From 2016, Alan was employed by Western Sydney University in positions in the Office of Widening Participation and he also taught several subjects. In 2019, he was awarded a PhD by Western Sydney University. In June 2021 he was appointed as an Industry/Professional Fellow at UTS.