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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Federation backs calls for forces to release more BWV footage

14 July 2021

Hertfordshire Police Federation is backing calls for more forces to follow new guidelines which make it easier to release body-worn video (BWV) footage.

The Police Federation of  England and Wales (PFEW) last year liaised with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which then in November launched an updated policy on proactively publishing bodycam footage but only a handful of forces are using the new guidance.

PFEW national chair John Apter is now urging more forces to release video footage amid fears that officers are now regularly coming in for criticism when material is published on social media without context or explanation.

His calls for more action were supported by Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Geoff Bardell.

He said: “It is really important that more forces start using these new guidelines to their full extent. We are too often seeing mobile phone footage posted on social media that has been taken out of context and shows only one side of the story and not the reality of the situation or what led to it.

“The impact of this can be incredibly damaging for individual officers but it can also damage public confidence in the police as a whole and their faith in the broader criminal justice process.

“There are will be times when forces cannot publish footage, something the new guidelines recognise, but we have to do something to try to counter the damaging footage that we are currently seeing.”

The issue was debated by peers in the House of Lords last week.

Minister of State, Baroness Williams of Trafford, said “speed is of the essence” when it comes to police publicising their interactions with the public.

She added: “Selective release of video can paint a very different picture from what actually happened. This point has been made again and again. It is absolutely right that these things be released quickly and brought forward in a way that does not undermine the criminal justice system that ensues.”

Lord Coaker also raised the issue of police being vilified on social media not long after a video surfaced on social media of officers being criticised for stopping for lunch in their vehicle.

John said: “It is good to see this important issue has been raised in the House of Lords as we have been pushing for change in this area over the past year. What is frustrating is that only a handful of forces have adopted the new guidance issued by the NPCC and many are not as proactive as they could be. It shouldn’t be taking so long to do something which would support our colleagues.

“In recent days we have seen officers having camera phones stuffed in their faces while they dare to eat on duty. It may come as a surprise to some, but police officers are human beings and need to stop to eat during the little time they have free. Because of the demands of the job, lack of police stations and even fewer police canteens they will sometimes be seen eating in public, this should not be breaking news on social media.”

 

 

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