ALL front-line police officers across a force are to be rigged up to cameras while on duty.
Durham Constabulary is issuing the gear to Special Constables and Police Community Support Officers in addition to officers after successful trial.
Since the initial tests, the body-worn video (BVW) cameras have been extended to cover response and neighbourhood teams since April last year.
Now another 200 of the tiny cameras have been bought to add to its existing stock of 500, allowing it to kit up all those who work in public-facing roles.
Bosses say this makes Durham one of the only forces – if not the first – in England and Wales to extend their use across all front-line staff.
The £45 equipment can capture sound as well as footage, which can then be used as evidence in court.
In November, Northumbria Police said officers in Washington would wear similar cameras to help gather evidence when called to reports of domestic violence as part of a specialist team.
Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg said: “The effective use of these cameras will promote public reassurance, capture best evidence, prevent harm and deter people from committing crime and antisocial behaviour.
“Recordings provide independent evidence that will improve the quality of prosecution cases and reduce the reliance on victim evidence, particularly those who may be vulnerable or reluctant to attend court.
“Using recordings will also impact on the professionalism of the service and support the professional development of officers and staff.”
Chief Superintendent Graham Hall, who has overseen the development of the cameras, added footage will help the Crown Prosecution Service make early decisions, prompt guilty pleas and deter bad behaviour.
He said: “Members of the public can be confident that this further roll-out of the cameras is about providing the best possible use of resources, reducing costs and making Durham Constabulary even more accountable to the people we serve.”