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UK police says ‘wearable technology’ has been a success in offering greater transparency

Police in the UK has claimed the introduction of wearable cameras in order to monitor alleged police misconduct and offer greater transparency has been a success. However, it has received mixed reviews with some expressing their ethical concerns over the issue of privacy. 

London’s Metropolitan Police Force maintained that wearing body cameras not only helps them to gather evidence, but also demonstrates their professionalism. A spokesman for the force has revealed that over 22,000 officers currently wear Body Worn Video. (BMW)

There have been accusations in both the UK and in the US over the issue of police misconduct and many feel the introduction of wearable technology can provide a much greater level of transparency. Others are uneasy about the technology believing it to be yet another increase in surveillance on the general public.

The technology was motivated by a fatal police shooting in 2011 that sparked widespread riots which lasted for days, while there have been a number of police shootings in the US that have also caused controversy and social unrest. This has caused international debate and has led for calls for police officers to wear body cameras at all times.

British police have said that it has been hugely beneficial for them and that it has defused tense situations and has sped up prosecutions. However, they’re not legally obliged to wear them at all times which means uncovering any police misconduct could be limited.

Renate Samson, head of Big Brother Watch agrees there are transparency benefits to officers being legally obliged to wear cameras at all time, but raised concerns of the proposed widespread roll-out of the technology for purpose that exceeds law enforcement.

She said: "While we understand the perceived transparency benefits relating to body-worn cameras, we do have profound concerns about the potential rollout of the technology for purposes beyond law enforcement. Officials such as traffic wardens and even local council litter enforcers see the "new capabilities as the solution to a broad range of problem. We could find ourselves being filmed all the time by officials wandering the streets."