500 police officers in Hackney will wear cameras (left). Photo: Met police

Hundreds of police officers in Hackney are wearing body cameras for the first time to fight crime and improve public trust in policing.

A pilot scheme from 18 April sees around 500 frontline police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) hit the streets with Body Worn Video, with more cameras available for specialist departments.

The Met police said the cameras will mean greater transparency for police and residents and could help bring speedier justice for victims.

The cameras don’t record all the time. Officers will tell members of the public when they switch on the cameras and a red light shows when they are recording.

Footage is automatically uploaded onto secure servers and kept for evidence or deleted within 31 days.

Members of the public can watch footage of themselves by asking the Met in writing under Freedom of Information and data protection laws.

Detective Inspector Lee McCullough, who leads Hackney’s Body Worn Camera operations, said: “Body Worn Video is an important addition to the equipment we provide to our frontline officers.

“It can be difficult to articulate what officers have witnessed, however with both an audio and visual capability, the cameras deliver much needed context in our presentation of evidence and provide further reassurance to the community.”

He added: “I see the issuing of the cameras as an important tool to combat crime and one which will support both officers and the public.”

A Cambridge University study of 2,000 officers in the UK and US, published last September, found body cameras led to a 93 per cent drop in public complaints about the police.

Dr Barak Ariel, Cambridge criminologist and the study’s lead author, said upon its release: “There can be no doubt that body-worn cameras increase the transparency of frontline policing.

“Individual officers become more accountable, and modify their behaviour accordingly, while the more disingenuous complaints from the public fall by the wayside once footage is likely to reveal them as frivolous.”

He added: “The cameras create an equilibrium between the account of the officer and the account of the suspect about the same event – increasing accountability on both sides.”

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