Head-Mounted Police Cameras in the UK

More from camera-happy England.

Posted on June 1, 2007 at 12:55 PM • 25 Comments


ArminJune 1, 2007 1:57 PM

Wrong headline.

They are traffic wardens employed by the council through a contractor, not police. That's something quite different in a number of ways.

Stephen BJune 1, 2007 2:15 PM

In fact, there are many traffic-wardens in the UK who are part of the local Police force. Anyway, yet again this is a further increase in the "Robocopping" of the UK Police - and again, questionable about which road this takes us down.

I wonder if it works both ways. I wonder if it'll soon be compulsory for a Police[wo]man to have to digitize all of the contact they have with citizens, such as casually questioning someone observed to do something potentially illegal. Maybe us citizens will also be expected to provide our own "digital record" of the questioning in court to ascertain whether the Police were holding any evidence back in court.

Funny thing this increasing "citizen-digitizing"....


ARMJune 1, 2007 2:24 PM

I'm with Armin on this one, Bruce. These guys aren't police officers, they're parking monitors.

I'm less interested in the fact that they'll have cameras than I am with the fact that they're becoming de facto deputies with limited police powers. Okay, so it's only for really minor crap, like littering. But I'm not sure that I'm a fan of outsourcing public law enforcement to private companies, unless they're being held to very strict standards, or there is some other form of readily available public accountability.

Geoff LaneJune 1, 2007 2:37 PM

The traffic wardens were previously issued with digital cameras so they could document giving a parking violation ticket. Now it seems they don't feel safe without a full video of the events.

On one hand, it might put off the more violent objections by members of the public. On the other, the video is recorded on a hard disk carried by the warden, so any clued up attacker will just take the camera and disk from the unconscious warden.

A watched population always boils over.

JayJune 1, 2007 2:57 PM

UK is getting more paranoid about stuff. Everytime you go out to the street you will be definitely be captured in more than 15 cameras or so..i wonder what they do with the normal tapes..

Stephen SmoogenJune 1, 2007 3:01 PM

Actually I was thinking it would be the appropriate addition to car-cameras in police cars. They can be used for a good and bad purposes like any technology. They should be aimed as an appropriate tool of evidence collection and a tool for watching-the-watchmen to help deal with rogue elements.

ShelbyJune 1, 2007 3:06 PM

Looks a little funny in the picture ...

"I am Locutus of Borg. Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been, is over."

From the article, they are more than just parking monitors, but less than police: "They will also have powers to give on-the-spot fines for anti-social behaviour."

mozJune 1, 2007 3:27 PM

An obvious use for 3G; if they were continuously sending their signal back to base and it was being recorded on a hard disk there, then there would be no benefit from mugging them for their local hard disk. This would also mean that the evidence could be more neutral. No "accidiental" tripping and destroying the hard disk after a little "incident". Actually, that would be good for all the police too. All such people should have to wear an active camera at least 24 hours a day.

X the UnknownJune 1, 2007 3:38 PM

@Stephan B: "Maybe us citizens will also be expected to provide our own "digital record" of the questioning in court to ascertain whether the Police were holding any evidence back in court."

Immediately followed, of course, by the question of whose digital record is "less doctored", and a thriving black-market buisness in "high-quality alibi videos" that "prove" you weren't there at the time.

fusionJune 1, 2007 3:42 PM

Following Jay:

A friend, commenting on the public-scan camera system with voice capabilities:

"...the south Philly guys on the street corners would be using them as audition tapes for singing on a TV show. ...


In Hyde Park every soapbox orator would have a built in audience with the people who are watching the survellience cameras. Politicians could practice stump speeches in front of those lovely cameras and ask for a playback. The Brits just haven't used their noodles to explore the possibilities...

AlexJune 1, 2007 4:13 PM

In the Netherlands an action group opposed to the use of photocamera's by the police have opened a website (see: http://www.politiefoto.nl/website/recent.php) on which members of the public can upload their photo's of police officers. Not very spectacular till now, but this is indeed what you can expect

AnonymousJune 1, 2007 4:36 PM

"They will also have powers to give on-the-spot fines for anti-social behaviour."

Oh yeah? Well fuck that shit! [automated ticket dispenses from monitor]

Stephen BJune 1, 2007 4:39 PM

@X & @Alex::

Indeed: Both comments are completely correct. In the fact of digitizing the Police and any other parties involved in prosecution of crime may lead to a greater "proof" of a genuine digitizing - from both sides. Who knows - there could be a market for such a product (certified by independent accredited agencies, of course). I really do believe it's likely to happen.

It's always the same. Conflict. They will have digital cameras - criminals will have "torches" which shine a disabling beam. They develop more robust recording systems - criminals will adapt to portable EMP weapons. It's all relative, and thankfully right now - SciFi hypothetical.

Worrying Digitized future, though.


bobechsJune 1, 2007 4:55 PM

Add to the mandate looking for long-hairs in bits of military uniform or with insignia that aren't entirely consistent for futher interrogation and arrest and the scheme begins to approach perfection.

MikeAJune 1, 2007 5:32 PM

Keith Henson was working on the problem of "badge cameras", including issues of tampering and chain-of-evidence, before he got distracted by his current problems with an organization that probably qualifies for Godwin's Second Law. :-)

jayJune 2, 2007 3:44 AM


Ha ha ha.Now that's money put into good use. next time you goto the Police station you ask for "Can I have the tape for Hyde park corner camera 2 at 3p.m please,. eh.. I sung at my best that day!"

ReasonableJune 2, 2007 5:21 AM

The point is, of course, that having a record of the actions of a police officer is -a good thing-. We still want justice, right? if real officers had a 24x7 camera running, incidents of both police abuse and abusive citizens getting away with it would decrease.
As for the 'but the movie is stored in the helmet', I don't think this is a valid objection in most cases. people would 1. be deterred from acting violently to start with and 2. not willing, generally, to turn a small altercation into an aggravated assault (knocking out a police officer usually is). If enough incidents occur, transmitting the movie (or a low-bandwidth rendition) on the fly to the squad car/wireless network/etc is not that difficult. And yes, I would have preferred a better helmet design, but it's a cost/benefit issue, I am sure.

ProbitasJune 3, 2007 7:34 AM

"i wonder what they do with the normal tapes.."

Simple... Sell 'em to Google. That kind of baseline data is invaluable.

LDPJune 3, 2007 11:22 AM


Ha! Good point - I wonder if some of these tapes will start popping up on YouTube, sort of like those creepy Predator Drone recordings from Iraq/Las Vegas.

Maybe the Police Department (or whatever it is) can even make a little extra money on the side by streaming Live! headcam footage to Londonparkingenforcers.tv! Alas, the Brits stopped calling me for my opinions years ago...

Not that it would be all that interesting. Not in London, anyway. Maybe in Ibiza.

Colossal SquidJune 4, 2007 7:01 AM

"We still want justice, right? if real officers had a 24x7 camera running, incidents of both police abuse and abusive citizens getting away with it would decrease."

Yeah, but if there were allegations of police abuse I bet the camera records for the time in question would be 'unavailable'. Just like the CCTV footage when the police killed Jean Charles De Menezes in Stockwell Tube Station.
See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Charles_de_Menezes#CCTV_footage

AndyJune 4, 2007 8:07 AM

A traffic warden is not the same as a traffic officer and is not part of the police force. NCP stands for "national car parks" which is a private organisation. There is no law against them recording whatever they want but if they want to "use" that data in association with an indivdual then they could be covered by the act and for a small fee you could have a copy of whatever they have associated you. If they are covered by the same regulations as a filming company then they would need permission from the city council to do this filming and also £5M public liability insurance.


NCP do have a little bit of a reputation for charging £50 a day to keep your car on a derilict building site so they are quite wise in providing their employees with security measures.

Peter SlyJune 4, 2007 11:12 AM

Wasn't this story already reported?
Oh, yes, here it is: UK Police Use Cameras on Drones. ;-)

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