Topics: IT Services; Hardware; Qld.
Over the last three years there has been a nationwide movement towards equipping frontline police officers with body-worn video (BWV) cameras in order to document confrontations with individuals, establish objective evidence that can be used in court, and reduce the number accusations of abusive behaviour by police. However, recent trials across Australian governments show that BWV can also help prevent illegal fishing activity, protect council parking inspectors from abusive motorists, and deter assaults aimed at paramedics.
Earlier this week, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries released a Request for Information (ROI) assessing the market for a BWV Solution and Digital Evidence Management System suitable for Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) officers working in the field. The solution will both capture evidence and deter offenders from obstructing QBFP officers as they enforce the state’s boating and fishing regulations.
According to the ROI, the BWV devices must have a high water resistance rating, and be able to withstand Queensland’s volatile climatic conditions. The devices should also be capable of capturing conversational speech at a distance of three metres in 15-knot winds.
Body worn cameras are already used by fishing and conservation organisations in other parts of the world, including the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA). IFCA officers make use of the cameras when approaching any vessel engaged in fishing activity, even if no offence is suspected, in order to capture footage of offenders attempting to dispose of evidence before officers board the boat.
According to the Herald Sun, Ambulance Victoria is currently trialling body worn cameras to record evidence of threats and assaults aimed at paramedics. The digital recordings will make prosecution of offending patients easier, and potentially deter attacks from occurring.
Despite a recent sharp rise in assaults against Queensland paramedics (as reported by the ABC), plans to equip the state’s paramedics with body worn devices have been canned due to privacy concerns. According to Health and Ambulance Minister Cameron Dick, the devices are still being trialled by security officers in hospitals in the state’s southeast.
A six-month trial of body worn cameras worn by City of Ryde parking rangers in late 2013 found that they reduced serious verbal and physical assaults by 98 per cent, according to a City of Ryde council media release. Other Australian councils, including the Hobart City Council, have already trialled or are considering trialling the devices.
Body worn devices in law enforcement
Body worn cameras are fast becoming a staple piece of equipment for police officers across Australia, with the newly sworn in Labor government in the Northern Territory the latest jurisdiction to equip police officers with the devices. Northern Territory Police will have use of 820 cameras supplied by Axon (a subsidiary of TASER International), as well as a three-year subscription to the Axon cloud solution, Evidence.com, to help store, manage and share data from the body cameras and other digital sources of evidence. The decision to implement the cameras followed a trial that dated back to December 2014.
After a successful pilot, the Queensland Police Service commenced the rollout of body worn cameras for operational frontline officers in July 2016. Axon also supplies the Queensland Police Service with body worn cameras.
In New South Wales, body worn devices have been progressively rolled out to frontline officers from September 2015. Fujitsu and video streaming solution provider M-View were awarded the contract to supply the BWV cameras. Funding for the devices began in 2014, with $4 million over two years allocated to fund the roll-out following successful trials in 2013. A further $100 million for the provision of body worn cameras and other law enforcement technologies was pledged in the government’s pre-election “Policing for Tomorrow” fund and allocated in the 2015-16 Budget.
In April 2016, the South Australia Police approached the market for an end-to-end BWV solution. With $6 million budgeted towards the rollout of body worn video to frontline police officers, the Request for Tender (RFT) covered the provision of up to 1,000 cameras, a Digital Evidence Management System, as well as associated implementation, support and maintenance services, over a five-year term.
Western Australia Police began trialling the use of BWV in August 2016. During the six-month pilot, officers will be equipped with Axon cameras supplied by Taser International in partnership with Breon Defence systems. The trial is being overseen by the Evidence Based Policing team – an internal unit tasked with driving a more scientific approach to policing – to “scientifically test the difference between what happens when the cameras are worn and when they are not worn”.
Tasmania Police’s Special Operations Group has also trialled the technology. Trials began as early as 2013 according to The Mercury, though no plans to implement the devices have yet been announced publicly.
A portion of the $227 million allocated to Victoria Police for technology over four years in the 2016-17 budget will flow to BWV cameras, following renewed calls for a trial of the cameras in the Royal Commission into Family Violence.