NSW Police Force to receive AU$4m body-worn video camera rollout

NSW Police Force together with Fujitsu has begun a state-wide roll out of video cameras that will be worn by frontline officers to improve evidence collection during investigations.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

NSW Police Force has started rolling out body-worn video cameras as part of plans to improve its evidence collection.

In partnership with Fujitsu, frontline officers will be wearing Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras on their uniforms to allow them to have a visual and audio record of incidents that could potentially be used to support an investigation.

The Fujitsu M-View Oncall Wi-Fi Pro cameras will be able to record high-definition wide-view vision, and are also capable of recording audio only and in low-light situations, as well as taking still photographs. The cameras will also be able to stream live footage to remote police command positions.

NSW Police Force however noted the cameras will not be recording at all times; they will only be activated for use in operational policing activities, or when recording is "deemed in public interest".

The law enforcement agency also reassured that all recordings will be securely stored, managed, and processed according to relevant policies and legislation using Fujitsu's M-View software platform that is incorporated into the cameras. The cameras also feature a PalmSecure palm view reader, which will mean that the cameras will be palm-vein authenticated.

Acting assistant commissioner Steve Cullen said the cameras will be overtly worn as part of police uniform, and officers will advise the public when they are recording.

"The vision will essentially be used for evidence gathering to support prosecutions, but it will also allow police to analyse interactions, improve practices, and support officer training and education," he said.

Other benefits the NSW Police Force expect to see from using the cameras include lower incidence and escalation of violence, reduced officer injuries, reduced time spent on paperwork, and increased time on patrol.

The Eastern Beaches Local Area Command will be the first site where the BWV solution will be rolled out, the NSW Police Force said.

The state-wide roll out of the BWV cameras comes after the NSW Police Force completed a trial of the technology in 2013 and 2014.

The roll out of the BWV cameras is being funded by the NSW government, which has committed AU$4 million over the next two years to support the program. In May 2014, the NSW government also amended legislation to allow police to record in public places and private dwellings while on duty.

Deputy Premier Troy Grant said following the "hugely successful" trial, the roll out of the cameras will provide added protection for officers and the community.

"We want the community to be aware that over time, most police officers will be using these cameras to record interactions with the public and gather evidence -- much like they would a notebook," he said.

"Body-worn video cameras could also assist in domestic violence cases where victims may be vulnerable and reluctant to give evidence."

Last week, the federal government announced that it will commit AU$18.5 million to fund the establishment of the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability. Expected to be up and running by mid-2016, the capability will allow law-enforcement and government agencies to be able to use the new system to share facial images among themselves.

The Attorney-General's Department said recently that the capability is designed to replace existing manual, ad hoc facial image sharing arrangements between agencies. It added that agencies will be able to share still images, and ruled out the addition of directly feeding licence plate cameras or closed-circuit TV into the system. However, stills from such cameras could be used.

The Northern Territory Police recently announced a partnership with NEC Australia to implement facial-recognition technology to allow the agency to search through its database of photos, closed-circuit television footage, and videos taken from body-worn cameras, drones, and phones to identify persons of interest or missing persons.

In June, CrimTrac launched a tender to upgrade its existing biometric identity system. Once updated, the national automated fingerprint identification system is expected to have the potential to not only recognise fingerprints, but also palm prints, footprints, and facial images.

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