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Armed cops to be fitted with body worn cameras at global climate change summit
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Justice & Policing

Armed cops to be fitted with body worn cameras at global climate change summit 

Armed cops will be kitted out with body worn cameras as part of beefed up security measures to protect international delegates attending the global climate change summit in Glasgow later this year.

US tech firm Axon has been awarded a £505,000 contract to equip officers patrolling the UN’s Cop26 event, which will see prime ministers and heads of state visiting the city in November.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) sanctioned the use of body-worn video (BWV) devices after senior officers lobbied for their use in operational policing – in line with neighbouring forces south of the border.

The procurement will see firearms officers equipped with 650 Axon Flex 2 cameras during the climate change conference, which takes between 1 and 12 November.

Axon supplied London’s Metropolitan Police Service with 9,000 Axon Body 3 cameras and 3,000 Axon Flex 2 cameras in October last year.

According to Police Scotland the deployment of camera technology will ensure best practice as well as increased transparency and accountability at incidents.

Assistant chief constable Kenny MacDonald said: “Armed policing remains an area of high risk and understandable public scrutiny and as such the roll-out of body worn video will help improve transparency and accountability. The safety of our officers and staff as well as that of the public remains paramount in our decision to introduce this technology.

“The use of body worn video aims to lead to greater transparency, reduce and resolve complaints, as well as reducing delays to the justice system.

“While this is not new technology, and every other armed policing unit in the UK uses body worn cameras, it is a significant introduction for Scottish policing. As such, our public engagement survey for wider use by frontline officers is essential to ensuring people have a voice and it will help us gather and address any ethical and community related concerns where possible.” 

This news comes after chief constable Iain Livingstone asserted that the deployment of BWV to armed police officers was a “pressing, critical, ethical and operational imperative”.

Axon’s camera technology will aid police at Cop26. Police Scotland/Supplied

Police Scotland ran an online survey in February asking the public about their views on armed police officers using BWV to record certain incidents.

Almost 9,000 people responded, making it one of the largest ever carried out by Police Scotland, and the survey found strong public support for the proposals.

A large majority of respondents – 73 per cent – said that the use of BWV would help them feel “much safer”, while 74 per cent reported that BWV should be used “always”.

A separate national consultation is now under way on plans to introduce BWV to more police officers and staff across Scotland. It will close 20 August.

Martyn Evans, chairman of the SPA, said: “The Authority supports fully the roll out of BWV to Police Scotland’s armed officers in advance of the Cop26 conference. There is clear evidence of the benefits for policing, the public and the wider criminal justice system when BWV is available. The Authority is committed to supporting Police Scotland in exploring and embracing new technologies for policing whilst ensuring privacy and human rights are respected and robust oversight arrangements are in place to maintain public trust and confidence.”

Paul Strozier, Axon managing director Europe, Middle East and Africa, added: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to work with Police Scotland on this critical deployment of both cameras and software to equip their Armed Policing officers. Police Scotland has strict, high standards for operational use of any critical equipment and the Axon Flex 2 point of view camera has achieved these standards by being developed specifically to meet the challenges of modern day policing. Axon’s user-friendly software solutions will also support collation of evidence protecting not only Police Scotland officers, but also the communities they serve.”

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