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Do Body Cameras Work?

Do Body Cameras Work?
Do Body Cameras Work?

Body cameras can be used as a pre-emptive measure to protect the safety of workers, including security guards, construction teams and road workers, reducing the potential for incidents or abuse and keeping a clear record of any occurrences. But how effective is a body camera for security, and what difference will it make in the real world to improve safe working conditions?


The Increased Use of Body Cameras

The key to using body cameras – whether helmet cams or body-worn cameras – is to identify their key purpose and the types of issues or problems they are there to minimise, prevent or witness.

As a fairly new piece of technology, body cameras have been rolled out across police forces and emergency services responders, partly to protect the wearer but also to keep track of incidents and provide evidence in the event of a liability claim, dispute, or criminal prosecution.

However, many of the applications are related to health and safety, such as:

  • Recording potential threats and aggressive behaviour
  • Providing real-time communications between teams whilst working on-site.
  • Allowing managers and supervisors to broadcast instructions, warnings, and alerts across workforces.

Our range of advanced Wearable Safety Devices is used across multiple sectors. The correct device or technology depends on the intended application and the risks, threats or safety issues you wish to address.

body worn security cameras

Statistics on the Effectiveness of Body Cameras

A January 2022 report on body-worn cameras within law enforcement was published by the National Institute of Justice, evaluating data from the US and UK.

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There were some very positive outcomes:

  • The use of body worn security cameras in Birmingham resulted in a ‘significant reduction’ in injuries suffered by members of the public.
  • Cameras in Phoenix, Arizona, were found to increase the likelihood of arrests, guilty pleas, and successful prosecutions for perpetrators of domestic violence.
  • Body-worn cameras are found to be ‘promising’ in reducing the prevalence of citizen fatalities, including a ‘statistically significant’ drop in police/citizen encounters that ended with a fatality.

Although, as we have explained, body cameras aren’t solely designed for use by police forces, there is early evidence that when officers are equipped with live recording devices, outcomes are safer, better controlled, and carry less risk.

A further research study by the UK College of Policing reported similar statistics. Body cameras reduced complaints against the police and lowered the frequency of disorderly incidents, including littering and drunken behaviour.

While much of the data is anecdotal, and further studies are needed, it seems clear that body cameras have beneficial outcomes, de-escalating potential conflicts and providing much-needed proof that can support prosecutions or other claims.

Body Cameras vs Conventional CCTV

Much of the success of body cameras is linked to improvements in the use of CCTV surveillance. In London, where almost every street has some form of CCTV in operation, police have found that cameras prevent crime and disorder by roughly 16%.

Around half of the prevented crimes were linked to car parks, showing a bigger effect on non-violent crime, theft, and vehicle damage than on more aggressive criminal activity.

However, CCTV cameras have several issues, primarily blind spots. If a prospective intruder or criminal knows that a camera has a limited field of vision, they will simply plan a route to avoid being captured.

An article in IEEE Spectrum examines a study called the Rialto experiment conducted with the University of Cambridge, where cameras were issued within a police force of 54 officers. Some were asked not to use cameras, others were not given camera equipment, and the results were collated.

The outcomes showed that there was a reduction of over 50% in the use of force, every incident where force was involved was justified, and there was a drop of 90% in complaints made against officers both wearing and not wearing cameras.

There are, of course, multiple factors that influence the effectiveness of a camera, and the security sector is just one way to utilise body cameras. Still, the knowledge that a camera is recording an exchange or encounter appears to have a direct impact on the behaviour of the wearer and the people they interact with.

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Body Camera Features and Functions

Cameras are there to record events, particularly unusual or suspicious activity and create a clear, detailed log of what happened. However, it is also possible to use body cameras for more general workforce safety, with or without audio recording.

Clearway’s hard hat helmet cameras or body-worn cameras can be set up with a control panel and auto-redacting software to remove identifying features such as individual faces and vehicle registration plates, depending on the data protection considerations and where cameras are being used.

Cameras can provide an added layer of protection when workers are exposed to the risk of abuse, offensive language, or threats – an increasing issue for construction and highway workers who can encounter unpleasant reactions from members of the public.

In these situations, signage indicating the use of body cameras and the visible nature of a camera device mounted on a harness or helmet can reduce the likelihood of an incident.

You can also use body cameras as part of a robust security strategy, particularly where security guards or patrol teams work independently or need to cover larger events. Site managers can review camera footage to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or gaps in their traffic management, seeing how the site operates on an everyday basis.

Alternatively, if you don’t require video surveillance, Lone worker devices have in-built shock sensors, alerting managers or the Alarm Receiving Centre that a lone worker has fallen. They can use communications features to check in, verify whether the wearer is ok, or dispatch an appropriate response to protect their welfare.

Whether you wish to implement body cameras within your security team, prevent the risk of liability claims or false allegations, or simply want better oversight of your workforce, colleagues or technical tasks, body cameras can be a convenient, discreet, and cost-effective solution.

For more advice about the right cameras for your organisation, please get in touch with the Clearway team.

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