Police officers are switching off their body-worn cameras when force is used, as well as deleting footage and sharing videos on WhatsApp. A BBC investigation has uncovered more than 150 reports of camera misuse by forces in England and Wales - described as "shocking" by a leading officer... The roll-out of body-worn cameras, costing at least £90m over the past decade, was intended to benefit both victims and the police - protecting officers against malicious complaints and improving the quality of evidence collected. But during a two-year investigation, the BBC has obtained hundreds of reports of misuse from Freedom of Information requests, police sources, misconduct hearings and regulator reports. The cameras were introduced to improve policing transparency, but we found more than 150 camera misuse reports with cases to answer over misconduct, recommendations for learning or where complaints were upheld...
The most serious allegations include:
- Cases in seven forces where officers shared camera footage with colleagues or friends - either in person, via WhatsApp or on social media
- Images of a naked person being shared between officers on email and cameras used to covertly record conversations
- Footage being lost, deleted or not marked as evidence, including video, filmed by Bedfordshire Police, of a vulnerable woman alleging she had been raped by an inspector - the force later blamed an "administrative error"
- Switching off cameras during incidents, for which some officers faced no sanctions - one force said an officer may have been "confused"
The failures uncovered by the BBC are "unlawful" in some cases, says the National Police Chief Council's lead for body-worn video, Acting Chief Constable Jim Colwell.