Using Body Cameras in Private Security

Here at ZAM FM Ltd, we are passionate about evaluating new security technologies and exploring how they can be integrated into the private security sector. In last blog post, we delved into the things in which drone technology are contributing to the protection of private property and businesses throughout the nation. In this blog, we are shifting our focus to the growing use of body cameras.

Although wearing body cameras is not a novel concept, particularly in countries like the United States, they are becoming increasingly prevalent in the United Kingdom, both within the police force and in the private security industry. As body cameras begin to play a more significant role in both public and private security, it is crucial to examine body cameras and their applications more closely, as well as any associated laws and limitations.

So, let’s dive directly into some of the most commonly asked questions regarding body cameras:

What are body cameras?

Body cameras, also referred to as body-worn cameras or BWC, are compact, portable cameras that are usually worn on the body. The camera can be integrated into glasses or attached to a helmet or body harness. The camera itself can record audio, video footage, images, or a combination of all three.

They are perhaps most widely recognized for their use by police officers, but they are also utilized by private citizens, such as cyclists.

Are body cameras legal in the UK?

Currently, there are no laws in the UK that prohibit the use of body-worn cameras in public settings. Helmet cameras, for example, are commonly used by members of the general public, such as cyclists or motorcyclists, to record their journeys and provide evidence in the event of an accident.
However, filming the general public does raise some legal questions. For ordinary citizens, filming in public is entirely legal. According to the Metropolitan Poliece:
“Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.”

Naturally, this does not grant individuals the right to harass or target others with recording equipment. The law likewise varies with regards to shooting on private property. Various prerequisites, for example, GDPR and SIA permitting, will apply to organizations and confidential security organizations that utilization and view bodycam film. This will be addressed under the question, Do you need an (SIA) license to utilize a body camera?

When did the police embrace body cameras and are they effective?

The adoption of body-worn cameras by police forces in the UK can be traced back to 2005 when the Devon and Cornwall police department conducted trials to test the technology. Two years later, in 2007, a national pilot program for body-worn cameras was implemented in Plymouth. The final report from this pilot study revealed that the use of body cameras led to a 14.3% reduction in complaints filed against officers, with no complaints registered against officers equipped with head-mounted cameras. Moreover, the time dedicated to paperwork and file preparation decreased by 22.4%, enabling officers to devote an additional 50 minutes of their 9-hour shift to mobile and foot patrols.

By the year 2010, over 40 police jurisdictions across the UK had incorporated body-worn cameras into their operations to varying degrees. In the present day, police forces throughout the United Kingdom, including those in Scotland and Northern Ireland, have adopted body-worn technology as a standard practice. The recording caught by these cameras is used to speed up the goal of objections against the police, as well as to work with an expansion in early liable requests.

Are body-worn cameras being used in other sectors?

During the pandemic, incidents of abuse directed towards essential workers regrettably escalated, prompting the deployment of body-worn technology to help deter verbal and physical assaults against employees in the healthcare and retail sectors. Specifically, clinical staff at the Accident and Emergency department of the Royal Derby Hospital will be equipped with body-worn cameras, which will be activated solely in situations where an individual exhibits violent or abusive behavior.
Similarly, the Central England Co-Op has introduced body cameras in 50 of its stores as a measure to discourage threats and acts of violence targeting retail personnel.

Can private security guards wear body cameras?

Affirmatively, private security guards are permitted to utilize body-worn cameras while on duty. However, this practice has not yet become standard among numerous security companies operating across the UK. Nonetheless, an increasing number of security professionals are embracing body-worn technology.

This trend appears to be especially prevalent in university settings. During the academic years 2020-2021, security staff at institutions such as the University of Bristol, Middlesex University, and the University of Essex commenced wearing body-worn cameras. Looking ahead, there is a considerable likelihood that more and more security professionals will adopt body-worn cameras in the future.

Do you need an SIA licenseto use a body camera?

Like CCTV and drone film, you might require a SIA license on the off chance that you are using body-worn cameras or headcams for security purposes or as a feature of your business. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) regards body cameras in the same manner as CCTV systems. Even if you are solely viewing CCTV footage captured by a bodycam, you will still need an SIA licence.
According to the Gov.UK website, you will need a Public Space Surveillance licenseif:
You employ CCTV to monitor members of the public or to identify individuals.
You use CCTV to make preparations for jumble or to shield people from attack, remembering the utilization of CCTV for an endeavor to keep wrongdoing from happening or to give data about such episodes sometime in the future.
Your services are provided under a contractual agreement with a client.

Can body camera footage be used as evidence?

Akin to CCTV footage, recordings made by a body-worn camera can be admissible as evidence in court proceedings. Unlike CCTV, which typically captures footage from a distance without audio, body-worn cameras can provide close-up video and audio recordings of incidents as they unfold. This type of footage could prove invaluable in securing convictions against criminals, as well as providing evidence to help safeguard your security guards and company.

What are the benefits of using a body camera?

There are numerous benefits to wearing body cameras while on the job, not just for the security officers themselves but also for the security company:

They can help protect security Guards against false allegations

Wearing a body camera can protect your security guard from false accusations, such as the unjustified use of physical force. Ensuring that footage is recorded throughout their shifts will provide the necessary evidence to defend against any unfounded claims.

They can help safeguard your company’s reputation

Allegations of misconduct by your staff can have a severe impact on your reputation as a security provider. Possessing bodycam footage of your security guards’ interactions not only protects them from false allegations but also your company overall.

They can help ensure your security guards are acting responsibly

Conversely, if your security staff are acting in an irresponsible or inappropriate manner, you would want to be aware of it and take corrective action. Requiring your security officers to wear body cameras can ensure that they consistently uphold the upsides of your organization.

They may help to deter inconvenience on the job

Having a body-worn camera continually recording could prevent people from being impolite, uncooperative, and even violent towards your security officers, as such behavior would be captured on footage and could be used as evidence against them.

What are the cons of body-worn cameras?

Despite offering some advantages to law enforcement agencies, private security firms, and the general public, the use of body-worn cameras is accompanied by several notable drawbacks:

The effectiveness of body cameras is disputed

According to the College of Policing, there is a need for more evidence regarding the effectiveness of body-worn cameras (BWCs). Current research does not adequately evaluate whether the use of body cameras leads to improved police accountability or enhances their relationships with the public.

Body-worn cameras may increase assaults against officers

Research led by the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe uncovered that the paces of attack against cops were 15% higher when they were wearing body-worn cameras, testing the presumption that cameras increment responsibility.

There are concerns around privacy

Some councils in the UK have executed body-worn video systems without first completing a Privacy Impact Assessment. Privacy advocates have raised concerns that body cameras and constant surveillance may infringe upon the privacy of innocent members of the public.

Why Choose CCTV From ZAM FM Ltd?

We provide a diverse range of CCTV technology and solutions to businesses spanning all sectors.

A Range of CCTV Solutions

At ZAM FM Ltd, we offer a variety of CCTV solutions tailored to meet diverse needs. Whether you require permanent CCTV installation for a property or impermanent reconnaissance for a building site, we have the camera systems important to protect your business.

24/7 Monitoring Available

In some cases, CCTV cameras alone may not suffice. To ensure comprehensive protection for your property, people, and assets, we can provide a 24/7 monitoring service. Our highly trained CCTV operatives will vigilantly monitor live footage for any suspicious activity and respond appropriately.

SIA Licensed, Highly Trained

To undertake certain critical aspects of CCTV surveillance, an SIA license may be required. At ZAM FM Ltd, we ensure that all our officers possess valid SIA licenseand have undergone thorough vetting for a minimum of 5 years. With ZAM FM Ltd handling your security needs, you can have confidence that your property is in the most skilled hands.

ZAM FM Ltd is a leading cross-industry security provider, offering professional and comprehensive solutions to organizations seeking expert security services and electronic systems.

To learn more about how ZAM FM Ltd can support your business and its operations, please get in touch with us today.

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