“We would encourage forces to share the body-worn video footage of officers that provides a full, unedited account of what occurred.”
This is the reaction of the Chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation to the rise in the public sharing videos of police interactions on social media, which are then broadcast by the media.
The Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, has written to the National Police Chiefs’ Council asking that forces consider publishing body-worn video (BWV) footage to protect officers and show the full story behind social media clips.
Gloucestershire Police Federation Chairman Steve James said: “Officers are tired of seeing mobile phone footage used against them. Footage, often from unknown or unreliable sources, which is often edited to portray the most outrageous or salacious view of the incident possible and frequently not providing an accurate or fair account of incidents.
“Where it is available, we would encourage forces to share the BWV of officers that provides a full, unedited account of what occurred.
“At the heart of this, though, I would encourage journalists and media outlets to stop hunting for stories to beat the police with, or at the very least apply some professional investigative rigour to the sources from which they take these stories and not just leap to the most provocative and one-sided of headlines.”
John Apter has called for a meeting with NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt and College of Policing Executive Mike Cunningham.
John said: “These snippets rarely show the full facts. They are purposefully selective in what they show and can be incredibly damaging for public confidence in policing, as inevitably some people will believe the one-sided story often presented.
“At a time when officers are doing their absolute best in difficult and trying circumstances, this unfounded and unfair criticism often leads to trial by media and is totally unacceptable. They are simply damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”
BWV is considered to be one of the biggest advances in policing in the past decade. A 2016 study of officers in the UK and US showed that the introduction of BWV led to a 93% drop in complaints against the police by the public.