Cameras give cops hi-tech help

PUBLISHED: 11:10 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:00 03 July 2010

A NEW weapon in the fight against crime is revealed today as Norfolk bobbies are equipped with body-mounted video cameras in the latest bid to bring hi-tech policing to the frontline.

A NEW weapon in the fight against crime is revealed today as Norfolk bobbies are equipped with body-mounted video cameras in the latest bid to bring hi-tech policing to the frontline.

The county has been given Home Office funding for the devices which attach to body armour and can record an entire day's patrol. The aim is to crack down on violent crime, gather evidence and moderate the behaviour of those being filmed.

It is the latest bid to revolutionalise policing using technology. Officers in Norfolk have also been armed with hand-held electronic fingerprint devices, making it easy to check the true identity of suspects.

The cameras cost tens of thousands of pounds each and are made by a company which normally provides the aerospace industry, covert surveillance operations and the armed forces.

Insp Nick Russell said: “I anticipate that body-worn video will soon be a regular sight on the streets of Norfolk and hope they will be a good deter-rent and make people behave once they realise officers are wearing them. The evidence we can gather on these cameras will help to convict criminals and deter potential criminals, or those carrying out anti- social behaviour, which then has a knock-on effect in making our communities safer.”

Government guidelines say officers can use the camera in situations where they would normally take a note in a pocket book. They should not be used in general patrolling unless it is part of a specific operation - such as public-order duties. Recordings not used in evidence should be deleted within 31 days.

According to the guidelines, the cameras should be visible and officers should announce the fact that they are recording somebody.

The micro-cameras will be recording incidents as officers deal with them. It is also expected the devices will help capture evidence in domestic-violence situations as well.

Mr Russell said: “Extensive trials have taken place over 18 months to get the right equipment that is fit for purpose. I welcome the introduction of this new tool for police in Norfolk. Officers will be able to record the details of any situation they may be faced with.”

Meanwhile, officers have revealed how a new Lantern hand-electronic fingerprinting device is stopping criminals evade the law. It been developed to increase the time officers spend on the streets, taking away the necessity of having to take a person back to the nearest police station to establish their identity. It works by electronically scanning an index finger which is sent to the national fingerprint database. A result is returned to officers within five minutes.

Det Chief Supt Julian Blazeby said: “The introduction of this technology has already proven very successful. It gives our frontline officers an effective tool to help make Norfolk an even safer place to live. It has been estimated that 60pc of drivers stopped by police do not give their true identity... The message is clear: if you are stopped by police in Norfolk, do not be tempted to give false details.”

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