GRAMPIAN Police is set to become the first Force in Scotland to give every on-duty officer access to pioneering, body-worn video camera technology.
Following the successful pilot of the body worn video cameras in Aberdeen over the past 18 months, the scheme will now be rolled out across the Moray and Aberdeenshire divisions.
The Force will soon have enough cameras that every single operational officer, or pair of officers on duty, will have access to the equipment.
The cameras, which are smaller and lighter than a mobile phone, are worn on the upper body and have so far been utilised as part of a broad range of police work including city centre patrols, specific events, operations and during drugs search warrants.
They take clear and accurate digital images with sound which provides additional evidence and can be critical.
The cameras offer many benefits to both police officers and the community, as supported by an independent review on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Of the cases proceeded with by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which used the video footage as evidence, more than 90% have resulted in an early guilty plea.
This in turn has allowed substantial numbers of officers more time working in their communities and not abstracted to attend court.
The cameras also provide additional protection to officers and add an extra layer of transparency.
Superintendent Nick Topping, who has overseen the body worn cameras project, said: “Throughout the pilot, we have been delighted by the difference the body worn video cameras have made.
“As an evidence-gathering tool they have surpassed our initial expectations and the results really do speak for themselves.
“By rolling out the project across the entire Force, every single officer or pair of officers on duty will now have access to this technology.
“The cameras can provide potentially crucial evidence through the clear and accurate digital video that they record and offer an extra layer of protection for officers.
“Most significantly, the cameras have helped to bring about earlier guilty pleas – which means officers are able to spend less time in court and more time out and about in communities, making a real difference.
“These cameras can be used in a variety of situations and have proven their worth time and again.
“We are extremely pleased with the results that have been achieved and look forward to building on this success in the future.”
Superintendent Topping added that strict rules governing the use of the cameras had been put in place.
He said: “These are being used in an overt manner by staff and will be clearly marked, ensuring everyone is aware of their presence. In addition, where at all possible staff will also advise people when they are being filmed.
“Staff will also be fully trained and follow strict guidance and any recording that is not required for evidence or other policing purposes will be destroyed.”
The cameras were introduced after full consultation with health and safety officials and the Police Federation, who are fully supportive of their use.
The cameras have been manufactured by Edesix and supplied to Grampian Police through the Scottish Communications Group.