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Police officers are to be equipped with head cameras under the government's latest crime fighting initiative.

The Home Office is to provide £3m to equip police forces across the country with head camera technology, following successful trials in Plymouth.

It said an evaluation of the pilot run by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary showed that, compared with incidents when the cameras were not used, the body worn video devices led to an increase in the number of convictions of offenders. Their footage provided clear evidence that made it difficult for offenders to deny their involvement, leading to less paperwork for the police, earlier guilty pleas, less time spent in court and an increase in convictions.

For the year long pilot 300 Plymouth police officers were trained to use any of the 50 cameras available during day and night patrols. The evaluation found that violent crime was reduced by 8 per cent in the pilot sectors, compared to a 1 per cent reduction across other sectors. The number of incidents in which people were wounded were reduced by 18 per cent in pilot areas of the city, compared to no change in other areas.

Plymouth police using the new technology increased their detection of violent crime by 40 per cent and arrests for violent crime went up by 85 per cent.

Alongside the Plymouth report, the Home Office has published guidance to standardise police procedures for body worn video devices. The document says that police should tell people they are being recorded and that recordings should not be made of general patrolling duties, unless this is part of a specific operation such as a football match.

Tony McNulty, the minister for police and security, said on 12 July 2007: "The use of body worn cameras has the potential to improve significantly the quality of evidence provided by police officers in the drive to reduce crime, the fear of crime and increase the proportion of offenders brought to justice.

"The assessment so far is that the deployment of this new technology could be very effective in reducing crime, acting as a preventative tool and a means to enhance detection."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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