South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne has echoed those of the national chair in urging forces to make full use of new guidelines making it easier for them to release officers’ body-worn video (BWV) footage.
National chair John Apter told the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) last year that the damaging impact of selective video clips of officers, shared by members of the public on social media, should not be underestimated.
Some policy changes then came into effect last November after he worked with the then NPCC lead on BWV and the issue was discussed in the House of Lords last week when Minister of State, Baroness Williams of Trafford, acknowledged that some videos “paint a very different picture from what actually happened” and that the police should act quickly to publicise some of their interactions with the public.
John said: “These selective videos that appear all over social media are exactly that – selective – and without any context. But the damage they have on public confidence and criminal justice processes should not be underestimated. In recent days we have even seen officers having camera phones stuffed in their faces while they dare to eat on duty.
“So it is good to see this has been raised in the House of Lords as we have been pushing for change over the past year but it is frustrating that only a handful of forces have adopted the new guidance and many are not as proactive as they could be. It shouldn’t be taking so long to do something which would support our colleagues.”
Steve explained: “Most of these clips that appear on social media are one-sided and as such they are misleading. But people believe what they see so the videos have a huge impact and cause untold damage not only to the officers themselves but to public perception and confidence in the service. They also undermine the criminal justice process.
“We welcome the new guidelines on the use of BWV and urge forces to take full advantage of them and either release the footage of their BWV or issue a statement to add context to a particular video.
“Too many police officers are being vilified on social media and for too long they appeared to have had no right to reply. Now we have, we must make full use of it.”