Body-worn video and public-police relations

Researcher: Declan Falconer
Principal supervisor: Stuart Lister

Report expected in March 2022.

This collaborative studentship studied the impacts of police use of Body-Worn Video (BWV) on public-police relations. Enabled by the growth of digital technology, the wearing of highly portable BWV cameras by police officers has a range of potential benefits. These include enhanced public reassurance, confidence and satisfaction with the police, greater reduction and detection of crime and disorder incidents, greater police efficiency and effectiveness, enhanced police accountability and transparency and so fewer complaints against the police. In this context, a growing number of UK police forces have invested significantly in this innovative technology. West Yorkshire Police has recently invested almost £3 million to equip all its front-line staff with BWV for the purpose of recording encounters between police officers and citizens in the context of actual or suspected crime and disorder incidents.

Working closely with West Yorkshire Police, this studentship explored the impact of BWV on how policing is delivered and experienced. It interrogated the contexts in which BWV is used by police, how it effects the decision-making and conduct both of police officers and those citizens being recorded (or who perceive they may be being recorded) within encounters.

The research collected a range of data on:

  • the organisational policies governing the use of BWV by those frontline officers;
  • its use by police officers;
  • its reception among the public;
  • its wider impacts for the police force.

The project adopted a mixed method approach, including interviews and observations with police and citizens in order to collect data on a range of potential outcomes arising from BWV including; its impact on the level of public complaints against police officers, use of force by police officers, assaults on police, public confidence and satisfaction with police. Consequently, the project generated a wide range of learning that will inform future policy and practice of this highly important policing innovation.