Tech & Science : Call for overhaul of regulation governing use of police body cameras in Victoria - - PressFrom - Australia
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Tech & Science Call for overhaul of regulation governing use of police body cameras in Victoria

03:15  11 november  2019
03:15  11 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Police body cameras are small cameras , often worn on an officer's chest or head, with a microphone to capture sound Opponents of the police use of body cameras say that the cameras negatively affect the physical and mental health of officers by overburdening them with equipment and placing

Victorian police officers can deactivate their body -worn cameras whenever they choose One officer at an anti-mining protest used his body camera as a billboard for a sticker saying “EAD [Eat a Dick], Hippy”. Body -worn cameras were trialled in Victoria last year as a recommendation of the Family

a black and yellow bag: © Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation "We're not afraid of being recorded one bit," said Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt. (Supplied: Victoria Police)

New laws are needed to govern the use of police body-worn cameras amid growing concerns about the potential for the misuse of the devices, lawyers have said.

The devices are worn by more than 8,000 Victorian police officers, and 11,000 are expected to be in service by the end of the year.

Police are expected activate the devices when exercising their powers, including making an arrest.

While there are penalties in place for turning the cameras off, no action has ever been taken against officers who did.

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Call us any time to report non-urgent crimes and events. Our role is to serve the Victorian community and uphold the law to promote a safe, secure and orderly society. Victoria Police provides policing services to the Victorian community across 54 Police Service Areas, within 21 divisions and

Police Accountability Project > Commentary > Body Worn Cameras : A call for regulation Information from Victoria Police indicates that when police officers are on duty, the cameras will This lack of legislative regulation governing the use of police body cameras raises serious concerns.

The Age has reported that the State Government had given the police the power to deal with breaches, rather referring them to an independent umpire.

Lawyers say there are guidelines governing their use, but no legislation.

Police say if a recording is not made or is stopped prematurely, the police officer must make a note outlining the circumstances.

The guidelines say officers can edit or redact footage "when preparing evidence for a hearing before a court, where absolutely necessary or required by law. The court can request editing as part of legal proceedings."

A group pushing for greater police accountability is worried there is too much leeway about how police could use footage.

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"Just as capsicum spray is used as a coercive torture tool for police to get what they want, body-worn cameras are likely to 'fail' the public as an accountability tool in the absence of system review of their use by a body other than Victoria Police," said lawyer Gregor Husper, from the Police Accountability Project.

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EPIC opposes the use of " police cams " and warned the city council that body cameras could "become the next surveillance technology disproportionately aimed at the most marginalized members of society." EPIC also pointed to the potential liability for cities if harmful images are posted online.

Jeremy King, principal lawyer at Robinson Gill, said the rules need to be reviewed and laws should be introduced to Parliament to govern the use of the cameras.

"It's a legal black hole at the moment," he said.

Mr King said it was difficult for parties to access the raw vision, and sometimes police only provided edited snippets.

"You have a form of accountability that is entirely controlled by Victoria Police," he said.

Police union refutes allegations

The issue of body-worn cameras was raised in the aftermath of the climate action protests outside a mining conference earlier this month during which one police officer was photographed with a sticker on his body camera saying "EAD hippy".

Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt defended the policy, refuting suggestions that police could turn the cameras on and off whenever they wanted.

He said there had been no case of deliberate misuse of the activation process.

"This is technology we called for because we had the view that it protects or officers not only from complaint from the many assaults they confront," he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

"We're not afraid of being recorded one bit."

There have been growing calls for the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) to be given greater powers to oversee police behaviour.

'Off by honest error': Top cop dismisses compulsory body camera push .
Police chief Graham Ashton's comments come as The Age revealed guidelines give officers the discretion to deactivate the cameras, edit or redact footage.As Victoria Police embarks on one of the biggest deployments of body-worn cameras in the world, The Age revealed this week that the force’s guidelines give police the discretion to deactivate the cameras, edit or redact the footage before a court hearing, and limit complainants’ access to the images.

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