Version Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life
lecture: Hands up, don't shoot. Unless with a bodycam.
Dutch police officially started using bodycams eight years ago – although the oldest sightings of Dutch police officers outfitted with a ‘bobbycam’ date back twenty years. Such camera’s are another tool of surveillance, unless there is a solid policy governing their use. Of course, at the time of writing this summary, this policy is lacking. In this talk I’ll give an overview of the use of bodycams by the Dutch police in the last twenty years, explain the up- and downside for you and me and I’ll provide a summary of my policy recommendations.
It has become virtually impossible to go unnoticed when out on the street. One of the means of surveillance are video cameras. You are captured on numerous security cameras owned by the government or private companies. The infringement on your freedoms, however, is relatively (!) small: most of these camera’s are on a fixed location, static, at a distance, relatively visible and oftentimes produce imagery of low quality. Of course, that is going change, with developing technology and automated analysis in particular.
Bodycams are different: they are way more personal in many aspects. These record interactions between the police and the general public. The resulting images are viewed as one is present at the scene. Recorded individuals are prominently featured, their words are clearly understood and oftentimes the scenes aren’t the most charming of moments in peoples lives. In addition to that, many of the interactions between the officer and a citizen have a natural tension to it.
Where security cameras are especially suitable for untargeted surveillance of innocent citizens, for bodycams the ratio is more balanced. These cameras also impacts on the freedoms of citizens but it is way more proportionate. In order to be able to utilize these benefits to the maximum and at the same time limit the risks associated with the use of such cameras, it is important that there is clear policy for the use of such cameras. That policy should oversee all aspects, such as the registration (when to record, how long to retain), the visibility of the cameras and access to material (available to prosecution and the defense lawyer).
In this talk I’ll give an overview of the use of bodycams by the Dutch police in the last twenty years, explain the up- and downside for you and me of police officers wearing camera's and I’ll provide a summary of my policy recommendations.
- Vele honderden politieagenten hebben drie ogen (dutch only)
- Doordacht beleid essentieel voor gebruik bodycams door politie (dutch only)