Body Worn Cameras (BWC) are now being deployed to frontline Victoria Police officers after a success trial of the technology.
The small video cameras worn on the uniform of police officers can capture video and audio evidence, and are expected to improve community safety and justice outcomes.
Learnings have been taken from the pilot and evaluation of this information will guide the further use and deployment of the cameras.
More than 800 devices were deployed in 2018. The full deployment of BWCs is planned for completion by 2019.
The BWCs will help strengthen community safety by improving transparency and accountability in police interactions with the public.
What is a BWC?
A BWC is a small camera worn on the uniform of police officers.
It is used to capture:
- audio and visual interactions between police and the public
- real time video evidence at the scene of a crime
All recordings are securely stored and managed in a restricted digital management system.
When will police use the BWC?
Police will turn the cameras on when they are:
- interacting with the public
- exercising police powers
- arresting someone
- issuing an infringement
- collecting evidence
- conducting vehicle stops
- undertaking drug and alcohol or drug tests
Strict laws were introduced last year to ensure adequate protections are in place against the unauthorised disclosure of footage.
Police may not always tell you when they are turning on the camera. However, you are more than welcome to ask if you are unsure.
Why are BWCs being introduced?
In April 2016, the Victorian Government announced a Public Safety Package as part of the 2016-17 budget. This included new mobile technology and BWCs to give police the tools they need to keep the community safe, and improve responses to family violence incidents.
How will footage from BWCs be used?
Footage from BWCs will primarily be used as evidence in court, and for investigative purposes. Solicitors will be able to apply for a copy of redacted footage on behalf of their client(s).
Additionally, the redacted footage will be included in the preparation of the brief of evidence in line with legislation. BWC footage will be categorised and retained as determined by legislation.
The category of the footage determines the period of time the footage must be retained in line with the Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV). Non evidentiary footage will be automatically deleted after 90 days.
BWC and your privacy
BWC footage is defined as 'Protected Information' under the Surveillance Devices Act. Only authorised officers will have access to the footage and access will be monitored and tracked.
Victoria Police values the positive relationship it has with the community and understands that some people may have concerns about police recording incidents using BWCs.
Victoria Police assures the public that the footage is protected and the responsibility to securely store and manage it is taken very seriously.
Reviewed 25 March 2019