Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) recently announced that it is the latest branch to take part in the body camera trial. The trial, which is a scaled-down version of a full trial, will include 12 cameras and cost the Service around £10,000 to implement. It is hoped that the use of cameras will enable the SFRS to provide an even better public service.
Body cameras are already worn by several branches of the Fire and Rescue Service. These cameras have a wide range of applications, from helping the Service to review its own performance to offering investigators crucial data on fires started under suspicious circumstances. However, a body worn camera also comes with a reputation. When speaking to an officer, the camera is aimed at the member of public not the officer. Many people fear this has begun to erode public trust.
Full trial to be scheduled
While this is a limited trial, a full trial is also expected to be carried out by the branch later this year. This second pilot will cost around £23,000 and consist of around 40 cameras in all. However, it is not just the cost or the issue of public trust at stake here, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is also worried that the use of cameras will destabilise trust with the Service itself. With some officers wearing cameras and some not, the question arises as to who should. Likewise, members of the public may see camera-wearing officers as senior. Also, they may avoid contact with officers wearing cameras.
The cameras, which are the same type used by many companies from suppliers such as https://www.pinnacleresponse.com/ have helped to increase officer safety since they were rolled out in the Police Force. Likewise, better reporting and accountability has also been noted. Teachers in the UK have also reaped the benefits.
Currently, the advantages of using cameras seem to far outweigh any concerns being raised but these concerns will continue to be considered. For many services, officer safety is the number one priority and achieving this in a way which doesn’t undermine public safety, is key. Long-term it is expected that all emergency services will use body cameras. With the capability to live-stream operations not far away, the advantages are tremendous.