news The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has announced it is rolling out body-worn cameras (BWCs) for frontline police across the state.
The move follows a “successful” trial of the technology on the Gold Coast, said the Queensland Government, which has allocated more than $6 million over three years to fund the initiative.
The state’s Police Minister, Bill Byrne, said 2,200 new cameras would be purchased in addition to the existing 500 service-issued cameras already in use on the Gold Coast and in the Road Policing Command.
According to a statement from the state government, the total of 2,700 cameras will represent the largest number of BWCs rolled out to any law enforcement agency in Australia, and the fourth largest rollout globally.
“Following the successful trial on the Coast, I am pleased to announce that the QPS is now in a position to deploy BWCs to other priority sites throughout the state,” Minister Byrne said.
Frontline officers at “key locations” across 26 south-east Queensland, central Queensland and north Queensland police stations will now be equipped with cameras.
The technology “greatly assists” in dealing with serious incidents such as alcohol-fuelled violence and domestic and family violence through “enhanced evidence gathering”, said the minister.
Also benefitting from the tech investment will be specialist teams, including tactical crime units, rapid action and patrol groups, the Railway Squad and the Dog Squad.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the roll out of BWCs across the state represented a “new chapter” in Queensland policing.
“An evaluation of the trial of body-worn camera use by Road Policing Command demonstrated a time saving of a minimum of 10 minutes per officer per shift,” he said.
Adding to the policing tools available as part of the rollout, an evidence management system allows officers to add metadata to their recordings in the field. This helps reduce the amount of time officers have to spend manually managing their data at the end of a shift.
“This has been a long-running project for the QPS and a great deal of work has gone into ensuring we can take advantage of this technology,” said the Police Commissioner. “Not only did we need to choose the right cameras, but we also needed to ensure we had the capacity to store large amounts of data.”
In 2015, the QPS invited offers from suppliers and, after an “extensive evaluation process”, the commissioner said he is “confident” that appropriate hardware and data storage system has been identified to serve the state’s police force “well into the future”.
“It also means that the QPS will now have a digital evidence and storage system that will become the repository for data from BWCs – both service-issued and privately owned – as well as from other sources such as digital voice recorders, digital cameras and closed-circuit television cameras,” he said.
Commissioner Stewart added that extra training will be provided to officers to ensure they are able to make “the best use of BWCs and the new storage system”.
Image credit: Queensland Police Service