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When will BWV be used?

Officer standing next to a wall holding a shield

When will BWV be used?

Common law provides the police with the authority to use BWV in the lawful execution of their duties, for the purpose of the prevention and detection of crime.

The cameras can be used both in public and in private premises so long as their use is proportionate, legitimate and necessary.

The use of BWV is overt, which means that the cameras are visible and worn on the outside of police officers’ uniform. Once in operation a flashing red light will appear on the top of the device and officers will advise members of public when they are being recorded.

Recordings using BWV are incident specific

Recordings using BWV are incident specific, meaning the officer will activate the camera themselves at the start of an incident or interaction and continue uninterrupted recording until it is no longer necessary or proportionate to do so, or another recording device such as CCTV in a police station takes over.

When and when not to record

Officers will not be recording general patrolling duties unless this is part of a specific operation (eg, public order duties at football matches).
Whilst it is the officer’s decision when to record and when to turn off the recording, Body Worn Video should be used in any circumstance where:

  • It may assist in providing a record of evidence in respect of the investigation of any offence or suspected offence.
  • When the use of BWV would provide transparency of an encounter (for example stop and search, use of force).
  • When users would have been expected or required to have completed a written record or report of an encounter or incident.
  • Any other occasion when the user thinks a recording may be of evidential value in the future and to make a recording is proportionate and lawful in the circumstances.

There are a number of specific situations when there is an expectation to always record (unless there are legal or operational reasons not to do so). Some examples of such incidents include:

  • Stopping a motor vehicle.
  • Attending premises in order to affect an arrest.
  • Searching premises/land/vehicles.
  • Stop and search.
  • Critical incidents.
  • Use of force against persons or property.
  • Giving a direction to an individual or group under any statutory power.
  • Domestic abuse.

When activating the camera to record, the officer will (where it is possible and practical to do so) announce to those present that video and audio recording is taking place.

The College of Policing national guidance can be found here: College of Policing guidance on the use of BWV