The use of body-worn video cameras by police officers is an emerging area of interest for public policy and police practice. Police cameras can save both cost and time for police, influence law enforcement operational decisions and help prevent problems between citizens and uniformed officers. One objective of law enforcement cameras would be to optimise the collection of police evidence and improve the behaviour of both police and citizens.
The Western Australian Police Force is responsible for policing the 2.5 million square kilometres of this area, which has more than 150 police stations in eight metropolitan and seven regional districts. The programme implemented, as reported by the National Institute of Justice in the United States, ran for a period of 6 months from the beginning of 2022, and consisted of equipping all police officers working on the street with body-worn cameras. The result was more than 1.4 million uploads of evidence of the use of the video cameras. The programme, which relied on the deployment of this enhanced camera technology, was able to transmit live video images to command centres and staff members.
There were no statistically significant differences in restraining orders issued or assaults on police between police camera treatment days and control days (when no officer wore cameras). Treatment days had statistically significant rates of use of force, citizen complaints against police, and criminal charges compared to control days.
The review of this study focused on the collection of evidence and results of police-public behaviour. Outcome data were obtained from numerous operational data sets. A No Effects rating implies that programme implementation is unlikely to yield the intended results and may result in negative outcomes, as was the case.
There was no statistically significant difference between the mean duration of an audio recording of an interview on body-worn video treatment days compared to control days when cameras were not used. Nor were there any in the following cases: rate of assaults on police, criminal code violation notices or in rates of restraining orders issued by police.
Force use rates were higher on body-worn camera treatment days compared to control days. There was one use-of-force incident per 1,000 computer-aided dispatch jobs on treatment days and 0.7 incidences per 1,000 computer-aided dispatch jobs on control days. This difference was statistically significant and in the opposite direction to that expected.
Citizen complaints against the police were more frequent on camera treatment days compared to control days. There were 0.7 complaints per 1,000 computer-aided dispatch jobs on treatment days and 0.4 complaints per 1,000 computer-aided dispatch jobs on control days. This difference was statistically significant and in the opposite direction to that expected.
Criminal charge rates were higher on body-worn camera treatment days compared to control days. There were 139.2 criminal charges per 1,000 computer-aided dispatch jobs on treatment days versus 125.5 criminal charges per 1,000 computer-aided dispatch jobs on control days. This difference was statistically significant.