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Police watchdog urges use of data recorders

'Black box' for police vehicles

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Data recorders should be fitted to all police vehicles, says a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The IPCC has made the recommendation as one of several in a study on serious and fatal injuries from police road traffic incidents, published on 19 September 2007.

Data recorders capture the speed at which a police vehicle is travelling at the end of an incident, along with the use of brakes, sirens, and lights. Some models can also capture more information about the time preceding the incident.

In a sample of police vehicles leading a pursuit, 33 per cent were fitted with a data recorder, 10 per cent were not, and it was not stated for the remainder. Of the vehicles which had a recorder, data could be downloaded in 29 out of 34 incidents.

The report says data recorders not only provide independent evidence when something goes wrong, but they can also corroborate or invalidate evidence from witnesses. The IPCC also suggests that their use could deter police officers from taking unnecessary or dangerous actions.

Video recording equipment is also available to police, although it is more common in specialist traffic vehicles. Cameras can capture evidence of the behaviour of other road users during the incident and record the commentary of officers in the vehicle.

Video recording cameras should be fitted to all vehicles used by traffic officers, the report adds. To ensure equipment works properly, checks should be made prior to officers taking a vehicle out, and they should not be turned off during an incident.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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