Body-Worn Cameras and the Law of Unintended Consequences: Some Questions Arising from Emergent Practices

Source: 

Oxford University Press, 2017 

Authors: 

Mike Rowe, Geoff Pearson and Elizabeth Turner

Research on body-worn cameras (BWC) has tended, through evaluations or randomized controlled trials, to look to demonstrate some assumed benefit or consequence of the use of BWC. This article is concerned with the ways in which police officers use and talk about BWC and draw on ethnographic research over the past 30 months in one force as it rolled out the use of cameras. BWC have become a useful tool in the array of those available to officers. At the same time, they come with some downsides. There are pressures to use the cameras in more and more encounters with the public and while their use may raise the standards of police–citizen interactions, there is also a concern that they constrain discretion. Beyond their immediate use, questions about their evidential value have also emerged. Finally, we begin to question the model of accountability cameras present to the public.

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