Webster CW, Miranda D & Leleux C (2022) Governing police-public encounters mediated by the use of Body-Worn Cameras. European Group of Public Administration (EGPA), Lisbon, Portugal, 06.09.2022-09.09.2022.
This paper explores emerging governance structures surrounding the use of Body-Worn Video (BWV) cameras in policing contexts, with specific reference to the UK. It reviews existing knowledge about the diffusion of BWV, in relation to the purpose of the technology, existing regulatory arrangements and the perceived benefits and impacts of the technology. The focus of the paper is the nature of police-citizen interactions mediated by this specific technology and roles played by emergent scrutiny mechanisms. The paper will identify and assess the different types of police-citizen interaction involving BWV, from armed responses to ‘stop and search’, and identify the existing rules, protocols and regulations governing their use in these scenarios. In the paper, it is argued that the rationale for the use of BWV in policing is well established, is afforded a good level of public support, and that it is also evident, that across UK police forces, there is differentiated use of the technology and associated governance mechanisms. The paper also establishes that across the UK there are novel emergent mechanisms used to govern BWV in relation to scrutiny and accountability. These include dedicated ‘scrutiny panels’, practices referred to as random ‘dip sampling’, as well as dedicated codes of practice and use protocols. Here, it is evident that across the UK the provision and practice of BWV deviates by police force and region, resulting in a governance ‘patchwork’. The core underlying argument is the technology diffuses and ‘lived experiences’ shape use over time, and that simultaneously mechanisms for oversight and accountability emerge and are shaped by existing institutional arrangements. The research presented in this paper derives from an ‘evidence led review’ conducted by the authors for Police Scotland in November-December 2021 (Webster, et al. 2022). This review included an extensive literature review and interviews with key stakeholders. The outcome of the review is intended to inform the future provision of BWV by Police Scotland.
Body-worn Cameras; Body-worn Video; scrutiny; accountability; policing; emerging technology