Body worn video cameras policy and guidance
This policy and guidance outlines the use of body-worn video cameras by the Authority’s Ranger Team.
The introduction of body-worn video cameras is being piloted for a period of 24 months, with a formal review after 18 months. The policy and guidance will be kept under review during the trial period.
Body-worn video cameras (BWC) are being introduced for the following reasons:
- Protect staff by deterring confrontational/aggressive behaviour
Evidence from other organisations indicates that BWCs can alter confrontational/aggressive behaviour, leading to fewer incidents.
- Provide compelling evidence
If required, high-quality video and audio footage of an incident make it clearer what happened, when, and who was there, increasing the likelihood of successful prosecutions.
- Ensure a consistent and professional approach by the Ranger Team
Evidence in the event of allegations or complaints made against the Authority’s Rangers or to identify any learning that might be necessary to improve performance or conduct.
Principles of Use
1. Use of a BWC must always be for a specified purpose which is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and necessary to meet an identified pressing need.
The Authority considers that the use of BWCs will help discharge its obligations to ensure the safety and welfare of our staff under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. We also consider that the use of BWC is consistent with our obligations under the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 and the Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985.
2. The use of BWC must take into account its effect on individuals and their privacy, with regular reviews to ensure their use remains justified.
The Authority has undertaken a Data Protection Impact Assessment to ensure that our intended use of BWC minimises unwarranted privacy intrusion. As a general rule, we will ensure that any privacy intrusion that might arise from our use of BWC is restricted by:
- ensuring that BWC are not used for the recording of intimate circumstances where persons are in a state of undress
- ensuring that BWC are not used to record citizens in private dwellings
3. There must be as much transparency in the use of BWC as possible, including a published contact point for access to information and complaints.
We will ensure this transparency by:
- ensuring that BWC are not hidden and clearly visible to those who are subject to filming. As a general rule, where a Ranger is in uniform and is clearly wearing a camera, this condition has been satisfied
- ensuring Rangers inform members of the public that they are being filmed and that audio-recordings of the incident are being taken
- having a page on our website with information about how we will use BWC, this policy and publish details of how the Authority will process any personal data that is captured by a BWC in our Ranger Service Privacy Notice on our website.
4. There must be clear responsibility and accountability for all BWC activities including images and information collected, held and used.
Rangers are responsible for operating the BWC and it is their responsibility to:
- ensure that any recorded incidents are uploaded to a secure cloud
- ensure that files that may be required as evidence are ‘flagged’
5. No more images and information should be stored than is strictly required for the stated purpose of a BWC and such images and information should be deleted once their purposes have been discharged.
Non evidential files will be auto deleted in accordance with the Authority’s Data Retention Schedule. Evidential files will be retained on a secure cloud with access strictly controlled and deleted in accordance with the Authority’s Data Retention Schedule. Evidential files may be retained to improve performance and will be deleted once this purpose has been met.
6. Access to retained images and information will be restricted and there must be clearly defined rules on who can gain access and for what purpose such access is granted; the disclosure of images and information should only take place when it is necessary for such a purpose or for law enforcement purposes.
Access to footage captured from BWC will be restricted to managers and supervisors who require access for their roles. Images will be used to assess whether incidents that have been recorded, require escalation to law enforcement agencies for crime prevention and detection purposes. Incidents may also be assessed by managers to identify any learning that might be necessary to improve officer performance or conduct.
Footage may also be interrogated if formal complaints have been received by members of the public. This will be used to inform any action that might be necessary in accordance with the Authority’s Performance Improvement Policy and the Disciplinary Policy.
7. BWC operators should consider any approved operational, technical and competency standards relevant to a system and its purpose and work to meet and maintain those standards.
The Authority’s intended use of BWC is at the discretion of the Rangers and is not passive (operating all the time). Training relevant to the use of BWC will be monitored by the Ranger Team Manager through routine supervision arrangements.
8. BWC images and information should be subject to appropriate security measures to safeguard against unauthorised access and use.
Footage which has been captured will be stored securely in the provider’s cloud. Access is restricted to managers and supervisors who require access for their role. The sharing of any footage will comply with the Authority’s Information Security Policy and with the requirements of the Data Protection Policy.
9. There should be effective review and audit mechanisms to ensure legal requirements, policies and standards are complied with in practice.
This policy and the related Data Protection Impact Assessment will be reviewed after 18 months (as part of formal review) to ensure any legal compliance risks are identified and where appropriate mitigated to an acceptable standard.
10. When the use of BWC is in pursuit of a legitimate aim, and there is a pressing need for its use, it should then be used in the most effective way to support public safety and law enforcement with the aim of producing images and information of evidential value.
Using BWC the Ranger is able to produce a ‘perfect memory’ of everything they saw and heard at the incident attended. Any video recording of an incident is likely to provide better evidence than a Ranger’s recollection and subsequent note or statement making. If the recording covers the whole incident, it is not essential for the Ranger to produce a written statement detailing the entire nature of the interactions contained in the video footage, as this is avoidable duplication. If two (or more) Rangers are present at the same incident and one of the Rangers records the whole incident while the other(s) deal with the incident, the resulting recording can be used as the evidence of the Rangers present as long as it shows the entire incident.
The Ranger that captured the recording should also make notes of the incident to cover any additional points that may be outside the view of the camera as well as all evidential information required in the event of a technical failure. It is recommended that the Ranger record each incident in its entirety, from the time of deployment to the conclusion. If there is a break in the recording, details and the reason must be included in the Ranger statement.
BWC provide an account of what the wearer saw and heard at an incident. However, Rangers must be aware that some aspects of incidents vital to the evidence may occur out of camera view, that sound recordings may not be complete or that sounds at the scene may block significant statements by those present. There is also the possibility of technical failure and therefore Rangers need to ensure they remain mindful of standard evidence gathering procedures and not rely solely on the BWC evidence to support the incident.
Objections and Requests For/Against Recording
There may be occasions where a person objects to being recorded. BWC wearers may record overt video and audio without consent if this recording is for the purposes outlined in the Authority’s Privacy Notice.
The decision to continue recording should remain with the BWC wearer, who should consider the objections made by the person in respect of the recording. The presumption should be, however, that recording should continue unless the objection(s) made overrides the need to record an evidential encounter.
If the BWC wearer decides to continue recording despite objections, they should make a note as to why they have decided to do so. They should also take steps to advise the individual as to the following:
- the reason for the recording taking place - usually this will be to prevent or provide evidence of incidents when engaging with the public;
- non-evidential material will only be retained for a maximum of 30 days, unless required for evidential purposes;
- footage is subject to the Data Protection Legislation and can be applied for on request in writing;
- any material is restricted and will only be disclosed to third parties in accordance with the law;
- the recording is being made in order to act as a corroboration of the encounter and thus can be used to back up the accounts of each party.
Equally, BWC wearers may encounter members of the public who specifically request that any encounter or interaction is recorded, even if the BWC wearer does not feel that there is any evidential reason to do so.
Unless there are clear reasons to do otherwise, the BWC wearer should record such an encounter, but should remind the person requesting the recording that, unless there is an evidential reason to retain the footage, it will be automatically retained for a maximum of 30 days and deleted thereafter.
Operation of Body-Worn Video Cameras (BWC)
1. All Rangers (includes Sector Rangers, Assistant Rangers, Community & Land Management Ranger and Ranger Team Manager) have discretion whether or not to wear a BWC. Recording must be incident specific. The expectation is that BWCs will be used in exception and not as the norm. Rangers must not indiscriminately record entire duties or patrols.
Rangers will be expected to record when:
- they are verbally abused or threatened
- unwanted bodily contact is made
- they feel uncomfortable or vulnerable in a particular situation
- they are dealing with a pre-existing high-risk incident or believe such an incident may occur due to known intelligence relating to a particular vehicle, location or individual.
- a caution is being issued with respect to the National Park byelaws.
2. Rangers should, where possible/practicable, announce to the subject(s) of an encounter that video and audio recording is taking place using a BWC. There may be some circumstances where announcing that recording is taking place could inflame the situation. Training will be provided regarding these circumstances and Rangers will have discretion and be supported in the decisions they take on the ground.
3. Recording should commence when the Ranger, from experience, feels recording may be necessary and it should continue uninterrupted until the activity is concluded.
4. The decision to record or not record an incident remains with the Ranger. Each Ranger must be mindful that failing to record an incident is likely to require an explanation. Therefore, if a Ranger is present at an evidential encounter, they must record the incident.
5. Recording should begin at the earliest opportunity at the start of an incident (the BWC will record the preceding 30 seconds once started) so Rangers should be ready to record as soon as they believe an encounter, that would warrant an incident report or near miss, may be likely.
6. At the start of any recording the Ranger should, where practicable, make a verbal announcement to indicate why the recording has been activated. If possible, this should include:
- the date, time and location
- the nature of the incident to which the Ranger is deployed
- confirmation to those present that the incident is now being recorded using video and audio
7. If the recording has commenced prior to an incident without any potential subject present, the Ranger should, as soon as practicable, announce to those persons becoming a subject that recording is taking place and that actions and sounds are being recorded. Rangers should use plain English such as “I am video recording you,” “I am video recording this incident” or “everything you say and do is being recorded on video.”
8. Wherever practicable, Rangers should restrict recording to the areas and persons necessary in order to obtain evidence and intelligence relevant to the incident. Rangers should attempt to minimise collateral intrusion on those not involved.
9. It is advisable that the Ranger continues to record for a short period after the incident to clearly demonstrate to any subsequent viewer that the incident has concluded, and that the Ranger has moved on to other duties. Prior to ending the recording, the Ranger should make a verbal announcement to indicate the reason for ending the recording. This should state:
- the date, time and location
- the reason for concluding the recording
10. There may be occasions where an incident is only partially recorded, such as through technical failure, the BWC being knocked, covered or dislodged during an incident or where the camera view is restricted. There may also be occasions where the sound recording is unclear or difficult to hear due to other noises such as traffic, poor weather or other people. In this case, the Ranger is to make notes to support any BWC evidence.
11. Rangers will ensure the BWC is working correctly prior to starting each duty, including the following basic checks:
- BWC is charged and not damaged
- camera angle is adjusted to suit the wearer
- date and time stamp are accurate and there is sufficient recording time available on the device
12. Correct use of BWC will be monitored on a regular basis. If a Ranger fails to ensure the units are used in accordance with this policy, they may by subject to disciplinary action.
13. It is important that the introduction of video evidence should not take primacy over other types of evidence, such as statements from other Rangers or eyewitnesses. The incident is recorded in real-time, limited only by the field of view and audio range of the unit. The evidence is therefore far more accurate than was previously possible and doubts about what was said or done can be minimised. Using BWC enables Rangers to present their evidence in a consistent and accurate manner. The recording may be produced as an exhibit. Rangers must continue to complete the Authority’s incident report form for all reportable incidents or near misses.
14. BWC can promote reassurance and reduce antisocial behaviour. Recordings will provide irrefutable evidence and will improve the quality of prosecution cases. The Ranger Team Manager may use BWC recordings to review and improve how incidents are dealt with.
15. In general, non-evidential recordings from a BWC will not be used to review performance or conduct, however where there is evidence of concern regarding an individual’s performance (e.g., complaints, non-compliance with this policy, public engagement, conflict management) the Ranger Team Manager may use BWC recordings to review and improve how incidents are managed or address any under-performance.
16. The use of BWC described in this policy is ‘overt use.’ BWC are small, however they must not to be worn or used in a hidden or covert manner.
17. If a BWC is not working or found to be faulty this should be reported immediately to the Ranger Team Manager.
18. When not in use, devices should be kept in a safe place. The devices should be kept securely and not left in vehicles overnight.
Downloading of Recorded Data
The following process details the procedure for uploading footage from the BWCs using a laptop computer with the DEMS 360 uploader software installed:
- Ranger signs-in to the DEMS 360 software
- Connect the camera to the laptop via USB cable
- The upload starts automatically.
- Software prompts when upload is complete
- Footage is automatically deleted from the camera following successful upload
Retention of Recorded Data
Recorded footage that is considered ‘non evidential’ will be auto deleted in accordance with the Authority’s Data Retention Schedule.
Non evidential footage may be retained for the purposes of performance management and will then be deleted as soon as completed.
Evidential files will be retained on Reveal cloud with access strictly controlled.
Evidential files will be deleted in accordance with the Authority’s Data Retention Schedule.
Footage captured may be viewed/listened to by authorised officers only and may be shared with the Police subject to a formal request through appropriate channels.
Training will be provided to all Rangers prior to BWCs being used. This will cover this policy and guidance, the operation of the BWC and related software and best practice in the use of BWC.
We will undertake a formal review of the use of BWC 18 months following their introduction. This review will include all Rangers, the Authority’s Leadership Team and UNISON.
A written report will be presented to Leadership Team to determine whether to retain the cameras and to identify any lessons learnt.
Last updated on 02 Sep 2022.