Book Chapter

The Rise of Body-worn Video Cameras: A New Surveillance Revolution?



Leleux C & Webster CWR (2020) The Rise of Body-worn Video Cameras: A New Surveillance Revolution?. In: Newell BC (ed.) Police on Camera: Surveillance, Privacy, and Accountability. Routledge Series on Surveillance. London: Routledge.

The use of body-worn video (BWV) cameras in the UK is growing steadily and is being used routinely by public officials in relation to policing, community safety, car parking, and in the public transport environment. It is being introduced for a variety of reasons, including to deter assaults on staff, to provide evidence of incidents, and to record interactions between service providers and users. Despite their growing use relatively little is known about the numbers of devices deployed, their technical capability, costs, and governance arrangements, or whether BWV complies with data protection and other legislation. This chapter seeks to address this knowledge gap, by providing preliminary evidence about the use of BWV in a number of public service settings in Scotland. It provides a “snapshot” of the deployment of BWV in Scotland, including unique empirical research undertaken in 2015 on the numbers of BWV deployed, their primary purpose, perceived benefits, cost, as well as a comparison of data processing arrangements and governance practices, and attitudinal responses to the deployment of BWV by operators. The widespread use of BWV is becoming normalized in encounters between citizens and public officials and arguably represents a new dimension to citizen–state relations, and in the United States there have been calls from politicians for police officers to be routinely equipped with BWV following the deaths of young black males in police custody. However, the diffusion of BWV has not been accompanied by comprehensive guidelines governing their use and oversight and it is apparent from the research presented in this chapter that differing approaches to deployment and data management are emerging. It is evident that we currently know very little about the diffusion of BWV cameras and that their increasingly widespread deployment represents a new surveillance revolution.

Title of seriesRoutledge Series on Surveillance
Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online19/10/2020
Publisher URL…ok/9781138342439
Place of publicationLondon

People (1)


Professor William Webster

Professor William Webster

Personal Chair, Management, Work and Organisation