Phys.Org - Researchers from the University of Cambridge's Institute of Criminology (IoC) have now published the first full scientific study of the landmark crime experiment they conducted on policing with body-worn-cameras in Rialto, California in 2012—the results of which have been cited by police departments around the world as justification for rolling out this technology.
The experiment showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video, and the technology is perhaps most effective at actually preventing escalation during police-public interactions: whether that's abusive behaviour towards police or unnecessary use-of-force by police.
The researchers say the knowledge that events are being recorded creates "self-awareness" in all participants during police interactions. This is the critical component that turns body-worn video into a 'preventative treatment': causing individuals to modify their behaviour in response to an awareness of 'third-party' surveillance by cameras acting as a proxy for legal courts—as well as courts of public opinion—should unacceptable behaviour take place.
During the 12-month Rialto experiment, use-of-force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59% and reports against officers dropped by 87% against the previous year's figures.
However, the research team caution that the Rialto experiment is only the first step on a long road of evidence-gathering, and that more needs to be known about the impact of body-worn cameras in policing before departments are "steamrolled" into adopting the technology—with vital questions remaining about how normalising the provision of digital video as evidence will affect prosecution expectations, as well as the storage technology and policies that will be required for the enormous amount of data captured.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-scientific-police-body-worn-cameras-unacceptable-use-of-force.html#jCp