Police forces should release officers’s body cam footage of clashes with suspects and controversial stop-and-searches, the Home Secretary has demanded.
Priti Patel has written to Mark Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, backing a campaign to release police body-worn video cameras (BWV) to protect officers from ‘unfair criticism’ on social media.
Ms Patel has argued that online critics often slam officers even though they have ‘little understanding’ of the situations that officers face, the Daily Express reported.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has reportedly sent a letter backing a campaign to release police body-worn video cameras (BWV) to protect officers from ‘unfair criticism’ on social media
Ms Patel reportedly told chiefs that ministers must do ‘whatever we can to protect’ officers ‘doing their jobs’, arguing that the actions of officers are ‘deliberately misrepresented’ in social media videos.
In the letter, seen by the Daily Express, she wrote: ‘Decisions around the release of such footage are, of course, operational matters for individual chiefs and must be taken on a case-by-case basis with due consideration of the relevant legal frameworks.
‘Nonetheless, I hope that guidance will encourage forces to consider the welfare of officers in these situations and, where release of BWV footage is not appropriate, outline alternative options and good practice.
‘I would encourage forces to be proactive in considering where BWV footage can be released to demonstrate the good work officers do and to show that selective footage can be misleading.’
Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams, 26, was stopped with her husband Ricardo dos Santos, 25, and taken from their Mercedes and handcuffed in front of their three-month-old son.
It led the senior officer to saying ‘I’m sorry’ to the athlete and Met Police chief Cressida Dick echoing this apology at a Home Affairs committee.
Officers were accused of racial profiling after British athlete Bianca Williams and Labour MP Dawn Butler (above) were stopped on separate occasions by officers during traffic incidents
Labour MP Dawn Butler, 50, was also stopped in a BMW by police on a separate occasion, accusing officers of ‘racially profiling’ both her and the driver.
Mike Cunningham, head of the College of Policing, has also backed the Police Federation campaign which asks police forces to be ‘proactive’ in releasing footage.
But Met Police Deputy Commissioner Sir Steve House said forces should not release police body cam footage, saying it may make them ‘look bad’.
He said: ‘The increasingly routine trial by social media is unfair and damaging to individual officers and has the potential to undermine the role our communities need us to do to protect them and keep them safe from violence.’
Addressing the Police Superintendents’ Association, he added that many ‘tactics that we use for officer safety’ can ‘frankly look bad’.
Ms Patel claimed in her letter to Mr Hewitt that in some cases the actions of officers are ‘deliberately misrepresented’ or ‘edited’ when shared on social media.
She added: ‘This has a corrosive impact on the welfare of the officers involved and on public confidence more broadly.’