Published: 00:00, 22 September 2015
| Updated: 14:44, 22 September 2015
Every frontline police officer in Kent and Medway is to be equipped with body cameras under a £1.8m initiative, the force has confirmed.
Trials of body cameras have been introduced in Maidstone, Medway and Thanet, where 400 cameras have been in use.
The scheme will now be extended to every other area with a further 1,600 cameras.
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Ann Barnes, the Kent crime commissioner, said she expected every frontline officer would be going out on patrol with cameras by the end of next March. There was a sound business case for the scheme, she said.
“Using cameras helps modify offender behaviour and police behaviour.
"It helps collect evidence that can be used in court; there have been more first-time guilty pleas because you cannot argue about your behaviour if it is in front of you on a screen, so it has a real knock on effect through the criminal justice system.”
Sean Nolan, the chief finance officer to the commissioner, said there were two important advantages.
"If someone is to take on a police officer, they are much less likely to do so if they are being filmed" - Sean Nolan
“It will reduce the number of malicious complaints against officers, which take up a lot of time and undermine morale," he said.
"We also think it will reduce physical harm and injury to officers. If someone is to take on a police officer, they are much less likely to do so if they are being filmed.”
The scheme will be funded through money the force has made by selling off land and buildings.
Mr Nolan continued: “We did bid for government funding but unfortunately we were not succesful. Actually we think the savings in officer time means we will pay for this within two years.”
The state-of-the-art cameras will help police capture evidence during crime scenes, including pictures and sound.
On data protection, the force said it would follow proper protocols on the retention of footage and its deletion.
But while the use of body-worn cameras has been hailed a success in parts of Kent, police bosses were forced to suspend the scheme last September.
At the time, officers complained they were unable to download the recordings because they did not have the right software.