Councils criticised over body-worn cameras

Research published by civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch has issued criticism for local authorities over their use of body-worn cameras.

Smile you are on Body Worn Camera, Part 1 – Local Authorities highlighted that the recent trend of ‘widespread filming’ by body-worn surveillance was not ‘proportionate’ to the often trivial offences committed, such as littering, bad parking and dog-fouling, arguing that there is ‘little to no evidence that they are the right tool to solve the particular problem’.

The finding show that 227 local authorities were at least trialling the cameras, with 3,760 cameras having been purchased at a cost of £1,791,960.81. However, 150 of those local authorities did not know if they had completed a privacy impact, and 21 per cent of councils were keeping footage for longer than 31 days, which is the limit recommended for police forces.

Renate Samson, Big Brother Watch chief executive, said: “Despite repeated warnings about misuse of surveillance powers we have found that once again councils are choosing to use powerful law enforcement tools with little consideration of privacy.

“Using body worn cameras to protect people’s safety is one thing, but widespread filming of people’s behaviour in order to issue fines is simply not proportionate.”

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