South Wales Police Federation chair Steve Treharne says a campaign to share body-worn video (BWV) footage will help officers avoid ‘trial by social media’ and has welcomed the support of the Home Secretary.
The Police Federation of England and Wales is campaigning for forces to be permitted to share video and audio footage when selected clips of incidents involving the police are posted on the social media prompting officers to receive personal abuse because of one-sided videos.
Steve said: “It’s a significant step for the campaign to have the backing of the Home Secretary. It’s a welcome step and one that will reinforce our call for body-worn footage to be shared for the protection of officers.
“We’ve seen these trials by social media, where selected clips of an incident are posted on the internet with the express aim of creating division. It can be a traumatic experience for those officers involved and can also have a massive impact on public confidence in the police.
“We shouldn’t have to sit by and watch the social media storm unfold unchallenged, which is why we’re calling for the ability to protect and support our members by being able to share body-worn video in such circumstances.”
Steve was speaking after national Federation chair John Apter recently raised this topic with Home Secretary Priti Patel during an exclusive interview for POLICE, the Federation’s magazine.
Ms Patel branded the publicising of unbalanced footage in an attempt to vilify officers as ‘unacceptable’.
As a direct result, the Home Secretary has now written to Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), encouraging forces to be proactive in considering when BWV footage can be released to demonstrate the good work officers do and to show that selective footage can be misleading.
She said: “It is in this context that I am expressing my support for the Police Federation's recent campaign to protect officers from unfair criticism via social media.”
The national Federation chair said: “I wrote to the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing saying that, when appropriate and where it is possible, we should release officers’ body-worn video footage. I also raised this directly with the Home Secretary.
“The Home Secretary’s support and the action being taken by the NPCC and College of Policing is very welcome news. This is a step in the right direction, not only to protect my colleagues from unfair social media attacks, but also to protect public confidence in the police.”
The NPCC and the college have since agreed to begin reviewing BWV guidance with the Federation feeding into the process.