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Frequently Asked Questions

PCSO walking up cobbled street

Your questions answered

The main purpose of the cameras is to capture video and audio evidence, with the aim of supporting vulnerable victims, assisting prosecutions and to demonstrate transparency around police activity.

In addition, it is about helping magistrates and courts look at sentencing outcomes. A victim or Police Officer statement paints a picture, but video footage shows the real impact a crime can have on victims as well as a suspect’s behaviour.

Cameras are worn attached to the officer's uniform (usually on the chest) and are called Body worn Cameras. Specialist officers, such as those in the Firearms Command may wear the cameras attached to their uniform or headwear, as appropriate for the situation they are dealing with. 

The use of Body Worn Video (BWV) has been subject to extensive academic evaluation. We have monitored BWV use during the course of a year long pilot and have listened to the issues our communities have told us, matter to them - Checks of stop and search encounters and incidents of domestic abuse during the pilot show that officers are complying with this operational guidance effectively.

Guidance and Training

We offer extensive guidance and training in respect of Body Worn Video (BWV) to our officers. Our guidance has been in the public domain for quite some time and we are absolutely committed to ensuring that officers on the ground are using the equipment appropriately and in accordance with guidance.

Officers have been trained in both the processes involved in adhering to our policy on the retention of footage, and how/when to use cameras.

Officers will explain their use of BWV and the duration that footage is kept where possible. Officers are not issued with cameras until they have been trained.

All officers who have regular engagement with the public will be issued with cameras and other officers will be able to access cameras on an ‘as needed’ basis.

No - the use of BWV will be 'incident specific'. An officer will switch it on to capture a specific incident and stop filming when it’s no longer necessary or proportionate.

It will not be used to film our communities indiscriminately.

We have identified a range of situations when it expects officers wearing body worn cameras to have them switched on to capture evidence or where it’s necessary for a policing purpose.

Such as;

  • Stop and search or stop and accounts incidents
  • Stopping a motor vehicle
  • Attending premises in order to make an arrest
  • Searching premises/land/vehicles
  • Critical incidents
  • Where someone is using force against a person or property
  • Giving an order to an individual or group under any statutory power
  • Domestic abuse

Records a rolling 30 seconds (Pre Event Record Buffer)

The camera records a rolling 30 second loop of film in standby mode so when a recording starts the previous 30 seconds of audio and video are always captured. 

Police must inform people that they are being filmed under data protection legislation. An officer should clearly state when a recording starts and ends, unless the situation means it is not possible to do so. When recording the cameras have a flashing red light on the top which is visible to those stood with the officer. 

The camera records onto a hard drive.

Footage is uploaded to secure servers for use as evidence at court or other proceedings.

Film not categorised as evidence is auto-deleted within 31 days. Retained footage is subject to regular review (in line with guidance from the Information Commissioner).

Footage will be kept as evidence, for disclosure, or for other legitimate policing purpose as defined in Management of Police Information.

Footage will not be kept for intelligence.

The Dorset Police are the data controllers in respect of footage recorded on Dorset Police body worn video cameras.

The Devon & Cornwall Police are the data controllers in respect of footage recorded on Devon & Cornwall Police body worn video cameras.

Officers don’t have to obtain your consent.

However, non-evidential material is kept for a maximum of 31 days only and footage can’t be disclosed to third parties without your consent, unless it’s required by law.

If you do wish to be recorded, officers will consider your request where possible.

There is no deletion or editing facility on the camera.

When an officer docks his or her camera to charge the battery, it automatically uploads all its footage.

Once uploaded, the footage cannot be altered or deleted by anyone, and unless marked for retention, the system auto deletes it after 31 days.

Recorded material counts as police information and can be obtained with a written request under data protection law.

To find out more about your rights visit our Data protection pages.

An officer can make a recording both in public or private premises so long as it is proportionate, legitimate and necessary.

It is our policy that officers give consideration to circumstances or environments where a greater degree of privacy would be expected and, where possible, restrict recording to those individuals and areas where it is necessary in order to provide evidence relevant to the incident.

Officers don’t have to obtain consent of the subject being filmed.

However, non-evidential material is kept for a maximum of 31 days only and footage can’t be disclosed to third parties without their consent, unless it’s required by law.

As footage that is not being used for evidence is only retained for 31 days, complaints need to be made soon after the incident so that the footage can be kept in the event of an investigation into the matter.

To make a complaint to Dorset police please go to Make a complaint webpage

To make a complaint to Devon & Cornwall Police please go to How to make a complaint webpage

It is very unlikely that a camera would get lost however if this happens or there is a technical fault an officer would rely on his or her notes from an incident.