The researchers write that, if levels of complaints offer at least some guide to standards of police conduct – and misconduct – these findings suggest that use of body-worn cameras are a “profound sea change in modern policing”.
“Cooling down potentially volatile police-public interactions to the point where official grievances against the police have virtually vanished may well lead to the conclusion that the use of body-worn cameras represents a turning point in policing,” said Cambridge criminologist and lead author Dr Barak Ariel.
“There can be no doubt that body-worn cameras increase the transparency of frontline policing. Anything that has been recorded can be subsequently reviewed, scrutinised and submitted as evidence.”
“Individual officers become more accountable, and modify their behaviour accordingly, while the more disingenuous complaints from the public fall by the wayside once footage is likely to reveal them as frivolous.
“The cameras create an equilibrium between the account of the officer and the account of the suspect about the same event – increasing accountability on both sides.”