22 September 2020
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton says the support of the Home Secretary for a campaign to share body-worn video (BWV) footage with the public is welcome news.
The campaign aims to protect officers from facing ‘trial by social media’ when selected clips are posted on the internet.
The Federation, in response to a growing number of these posts on social media, has voiced concerns about members being subjected to personal abuse because of one-sided videos.
“These clips are posted to get a reaction from certain sections of the population but they often give a distorted view of what has actually happened,” Tony said, “They can be taken completely out of context to whip up a storm on social media and then often mainstream news outlets.
“This can have a really negative impact on the officers involved and undermines the public’s confidence in policing.
“Where it happens, we have to be able to protect our members from unfair criticism and trial by social media. The prospect of forces countering these clips by sharing the officers’ body-worn video to put them into context might just make people think twice about posting in the first place.
“To know we have the Home Secretary’s support for our calls for forces to share footage more often is welcome news.”
Tony’s comments came after national Federation chair John Apter raised this topic with Home Secretary Priti Patel during an exclusive interview for POLICE, the Federation’s magazine.
Ms Patel branded the publicising of unbalanced footage in an attempt to vilify officers as ‘unacceptable’.
The Home Secretary has now written as a direct result to Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), encouraging forces to be proactive in considering when BWV footage can be released to demonstrate the good work officers do and to show that selective footage can be misleading.
She said: “It is in this context that I am expressing my support for the Police Federation’s recent campaign to protect officers from unfair criticism via social media.”
The NPCC and the college have since agreed to begin reviewing BWV guidance with the Federation feeding into the process.
The national Federation chair has welcomed this response. He explained: “I wrote to the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing saying that when appropriate, and where it is possible, we should release officers’ body worn video footage. I also raised this directly with the Home Secretary.
“The Home Secretary’s support and the action being taken by the NPCC and College of Policing is very welcome news. This is a step in the right direction, not only to protect my colleagues from unfair social media attacks, but also to protect public confidence in the police.”