Head cameras a revolution in policing

Police in Norfolk are to be fitted with revolutionary head cameras in a bid to tackle domestic violence and anti-social behaviour, it emerged yesterday.

Police in Norfolk are to be fitted with revolutionary head cameras in a bid to tackle domestic violence and anti-social behaviour, it emerged yesterday.

The county will be among the first police forces to benefit from a new £3m Home Office scheme.

It follows tests elsewhere in the country which show an increase in the number of crimes where the offender was brought to justice when cameras were used.

Three cameras - which are about the size of a marker pen - are already in use in the western area where they are used to tackle alcohol-related and anti-social crime while two cameras are being put to similar use in the eastern area. Three cameras will soon be introduced in Norwich where they will be used by bobbies on bikes to crack down on low- level crime.

However, the new money will mean Norfolk police can buy a further 12 cameras which will be used to tackle domestic violence. Photographs taken at the scenes of evidence - including pictures of injuries or of the incident themselves - are proven to improve prosecution rates.

It is the latest advance in the county's use of security camera technology with talking CCTV - where control room operators can talk to people directly in the street - due to be installed in two Norwich parks later this year.

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Beth Manning, spokesman for Norfolk police's western area, said the cameras had already proved successful in combating anti-social behaviour particularly in the King's Lynn area.

Kristina Fox, spokesman for the central area, said: "We anticipate that the cameras will initially be used for evidence gathering for incidents that our cycle patrol officers come across in the course of their routine patrols.

"In addition, a further 12 head cams are currently being tested for health and safety compliance and will be used by officers who routinely attend first at domestic violence incidents.

"These cameras will provide vital evidence of the behaviour of both offenders and victims and will give the courts a valuable insight as to the sinister nature of domestic violence."

The cameras which cost £1,700 each can produce high-quality digital video or stills and record sound. They are attached to an elastic headband worn under police helmets or caps. The lens is level with the eyes and films in whichever direction the officer's head is turned.

Policing minister Tony McNulty announced the funding following an independent evaluation of a pilot project in Plymouth by Devon and Cornwall police.

The clear evidence provided by head camera footage means that offenders have less opportunity to deny their involvement, leading to less paperwork for the police, earlier guilty pleas, less time spent in court and an increase in convictions.

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