A look at body-worn cameras and the bigger picture

May 8, 2024


body-worn cameras

How important will body-worn cameras be moving forward? Adam Liardet, Managing Director and Founder at Audax, investigates.

Body worn video is now critical for reducing threats, violence and complaints against safety professionals and other BWV users.

The primary reasons for using body worn cameras are to increase the safety of frontline workers by deescalating confrontations and for the gathering of impartial, accurate evidence that can be used to educate, inform or prosecute. 

It also improves policy and transparency in terms of relationships with the public, while also reducing offender complaints and speeding up the administration of justice.

Several studies have been conducted on the impact of body-worn video equipment and they found considerable potential benefits to their use.

The studies showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video equipment and the technology is effective at preventing escalation during officer-public interactions — both abusive behaviour towards an officer and unnecessary use of force by an officer.

The researchers said that the knowledge that events are being recorded creates self-awareness in all participants during police interactions.

This is the critical component that turns body-worn video into a “preventative treatment.”

However, as is often found rushing out to buy any old body camera, will not be the solution.

BWV Cameras –are they all the same?

Body Worn Video Cameras are a specialised tool to ‘capture’ evidence in a secure manner.

Adventure & leisure cameras are not fit for purpose and do not have the security software and memory security to ensure that video and images haven’t been altered and manipulated.

They do not offer automated docking stations and secure back-office software to ensure and prove that evidence hasn’t been manipulated and is acceptable in Court. 

What still surprises me, is that a number of people still think that BWV is just a camera you wear. 

They don’t realise that it is often only one part of the overall picture.

In my opinion at a simplistic level, you can break a BWV solution down into four main components.

1.         The camera – this is the evidence capture device you wear.

2.         The docking station – for recharging of batteries, the automated download of evidence, the assignment and set up of cameras and a whole host of admin functions.

3.         The digital evidence management software – DEMS – where you file, report and manage the evidence

4.         Storage – local, Lan / Wan, server, cloud, hybrid etc

Sure, you can then add on accessories, how you can mount and wear the device, other integrations such as software triggers, facial recognition and number plate recognition, other platforms CMS / VMS etc, training, warranty, maintenance and a whole host of other bits and pieces but the core is still 4 x elements (or variants of).

It is not just a camera.

Some customers around the globe still only focus on the camera – whole tenders produced about a camera and little else.

Differentiators being ‘the number of resolution settings’, or ‘the size of the memory’ and of course ‘who is the cheapest’. 

China makes some very good BWV cameras but generally understands little about the overall solution required. It is the same with “box shifter” and “get rich quick” start-ups who have little or no passion in BWV cameras as I have seen many of these companies come and go every few years.

Their primary focus is on price and there is a distinct lack of knowledge when it comes to a whole solution and being able to advise customers in the full range of issues that need to be considered. 

Please consider pedigree of your supplier, longevity in the Physical BWV market should be a major indicator that they might just know what they are talking about.

When purchasing a BWV camera everybody wants to be making a considered purchase.

You would want to ensure that the product you are buying is suitable for the role it will be used in. 

Basically, will it last, is it suitable, is there a risk? 

Test standards, certifications, quality seals of approval for the country / region you are going to be using the product.

Certificates of independent testing to an internationally agreed standard is what you should be asking to be supplied to confirm your supplier can back up the claims they make?

In ‘Working Correctly with Video Evidence: 4 Essential Concepts’, Martin Jerian writes: “A proper acquisition should be followed by a rigorous chain of custody in order to guarantee access to the original evidence and disclosure of every action taken on it. This would grant the best possible quality and reduce the risk of the evidence being rejected in court”.

If everyone followed this concept and didn’t buy “rebadged” or internet purchased BWV cameras, then it would save them time, money and frankly a great deal of grief!

Security and DPA/ GDPR

Numerous BWV cameras are manufactured in the Far East and imported into the EU.

These are then rebadged as ‘Western’ and sold by so called ‘experts’ in their field.

Firstly, the import is often illegal without the correct safety certifications being obtained and the software having been written in the Far East is often insecure.

It arrives with numerous drivers to install and you having to log into servers located in the Far East for product authorisation and registration.

Back doors in the software and ‘hacking’ vulnerabilities are huge.

So, security is a major issue and I would question DPA/ GDPR compliance here too.

It is important that the user has no access to erase or edit recordings and that the user has no access to the settings of the camera.

This can only be done when transferred and connected to the back-office software and via the camera management software (with the required permissions).

The Audax Camera Manager Software controls which users can gain access to the camera set up and the functionality.

This means the camera runs as a secure evidence collecting device that cannot be directly accessed from the camera.

Additionally, audit logs are recorded for every user action on the system, allowing traceability for potential misconduct.

Audax BWV Camera hardware and software are designed from an early stage to guarantee security from camera to courtroom.

A key component of our Body Worn Cameras, which help deter offenders and capture video footage of important events, is our secure Digital Evidence Management System (D.E.M.S).

Once an Audax BWV Camera securely captures a Video, it needs to be downloaded where users can store and manage this footage.

This DEMS platform allows users to upload, tag and share footage simply and securely.

To help with judicial processes, videos can be marked as evidential until needed later, providing a complete camera-to-court secure solution.

What more are customers looking for?

Each customer is different and obviously have their own requirements but generally users require complete end-to-end solutions and wish to procure products that are both fit for purpose and are manufactured in the UK along with a local support facility if things do go wrong.

At a time when people are caring more about who they work for and who they buy from, Audax is proud to be one of the first businesses to adopt the Good Business Charter.

Providing award-winning products is one thing, but having recognition for how we conduct ourselves as a business is of particular importance to Audax and the Good Business Charter offers a straightforward accreditation which recognises organisations which prioritise and care for their employees, the environment, customers and suppliers, whilst also paying their taxes according to the spirit of the law. 

The GBC and its members seek to inspire many other businesses to follow suit.

It measures behaviour over 10 components: Real living wage, fairer hours and contracts, employee well-being, employee representation, diversity and inclusion, environmental responsibility, paying fair tax, commitment to customers, ethical sourcing, and prompt payment.

Being part of the charter provides a clear message to the world that we are committed to responsible operations.

To achieve the Good Business Charter, we meet and exceed their criteria in 10 components.

In summary, provided that the ‘output’ is ‘captured’ on systems that are ‘fit for purpose’, Body Worn Video (BWV) systems provide compelling video and audio that is fully admissible and increasingly used as vital evidence in court.

Body worn video systems are now critical technology for reducing threats, violence and complaints against security officers and other BWV users, improving policy and transparency in public relations, reducing offender complaints and speeding up the administration of justice.

This article was originally published in the May Edition of Security Journal United Kingdom. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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