Body Worn Camera - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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, but specialist officers, such as those in armed response units may wear cameras attached to their headwear.


The use of Body Worn Video (BWV) has been subject to extensive academic evaluation. We offer extensive guidance and training in respect of Body Worn Video (BWV) to our officers. Cleveland Police 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, also officers are not allowed access to the camera systems until they have been trained.


The cameras are currently not personally issued in Cleveland Police, however officers are able to access cameras on an ‘as needed’ basis.


No - the use of BWV will be 'incident specific', and will not to be used to film indiscriminately. An officer will switch it on to capture a specific incident and stop filming when it’s no longer necessary or proportionate. There are a range of situations when it is expected officers wearing body worn cameras would have them switched on to capture evidence, or where it’s needed 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


Police must inform people that they are being filmed, unless the situation means it is not possible or practicable to do so. When recording the cameras have a red LED light that flashes and the camera screen will switch on.


Footage is uploaded to secure servers for use as evidence at court or other proceedings. Any footage captured which is not categorised as evidence is auto-deleted within 30 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.


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


Officers don’t have to obtain your consent. However, non-evidential material is kept for a maximum of 30 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 commencing recording 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 30 days.


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


An officer can make a recording both in public or private premises so long as it is proportionate, legitimate and necessary. Officers will of course 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 that 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 30 days only and footage can’t be disclosed to third parties without their consent, unless it’s required by law. The only exception to this is stop and search. Police can show stop and search film to independent community monitoring groups for scrutiny. This is to improve the way it’s carried out and make officers more accountable to the public. However stop and search is subject to the same retention provisions, automatically deleted after 30 days if non evidential.


As footage that is not being used for evidence is only retained for 30 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.


It is very unlikely that a camera would get lost however if this happens or there is a technical fault an officer would have to rely on his or her notes from an incident. The cameras are encrypted to prevent anyone except authorised personnel accessing them.