Announced today by the Ministry of Justice – Body worn cameras are to be made compulsory for bailiffs under new Government plans.
The body worn cameras will have to be worn by around 2,500 certificated enforcement agents, or bailiffs, who collect debts including those related to council tax, traffic penalties and rent arrears.
Although a large percentage of organisations act in a professional manner, occasionally treatment of a debtor can be seen as intimidating. By activating this new plan the Government hopes that debts can now be collected in a fairer and safe way. This will allow for video evidence to be acted upon where treatment is recorded that is deemed to be unnecessary or threatening.
Justice Minister, Paul Maynard MP stated:
“The use of intimidation and aggression by some bailiffs is utterly unacceptable, and it is right we do all we can to tackle such behaviour. Whilst most bailiffs act above board, body-worn cameras will provide greater security for all involved – not least consumers who are often vulnerable.” he added, “We are looking carefully at other measures to improve the system and will not hesitate to take action where necessary.”
The Ministry of Justice also states:
The work to make the use of body-worn cameras mandatory relates to High Court Enforcement Agents and certificated enforcement agents. It does not relate to County Court Bailiffs who are employees of HMCTS and who are out of scope for the review.
Use of body-worn cameras sees complaints against police ‘virtually vanish’, study finds
Many see the recording of evidence as an invasion of privacy, however a year-long study carried out by the University of Cambridge of almost 2,000 officers across UK and US forces showed that the introduction of wearable cameras led to a 93% drop in complaints made against police by the public – suggesting the body worn cam resulted in behavioural changes that ‘cool down’ potentially volatile encounters.*
In the study findings, the University reported that ‘Researchers say this may be down to wearable cameras modifying behaviour through an ‘observer effect’: the awareness that encounters are recorded improves both suspect demeanour and police procedural compliance. Essentially, the “digital witness” of the camera encourages cooler heads to prevail’.
Barak Ariel stated “There can be no doubt that body-worn cameras increase the transparency of frontline policing. Anything that has been recorded can be subsequently reviewed, scrutinised and submitted as evidence.”
The findings of the report have been published in the journal of Criminal Justice and Behaviour.
Body worn devices are already widely utilised by public organisations such as the police, fire and local government employees whilst the private sector also embraces this recordable technology such as delivery drivers, waste refuge collection services, retail centres and security teams.
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