CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Police trust ‘at risk’ over block on seeing body cam footage

24 January, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Sheri Lawal

ISLINGTON’S stop and search watchdog has warned that progress made in building trust between the police and communities is at risk after the Met was forced to halt a scheme which allowed groups to inspect body-worn cameras.

The Met set up a system in 2018 where videos taken on police body-worn cameras during stop and search incidents could be viewed by community groups.

But after the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) the police had to roll-back on this scheme and Community Monitoring Groups (CMGs) have now been banned from viewing the footage.

In the 12 months from January 2018 to December there were 4,615 stop and search warrants executed in Islington. This figure rose to 7,504 last year.

Sheri Lawal, chairwoman of the Stop and Search Community Monitoring Group (SSCMG) , said: “I felt like we were making some progress with building trust, but this is now at risk with the new rules.”

She added: “I went to a meeting this month and we were only allowed to look at redacted data and reports but not any videos.

“This is unfortunate because viewing the body-worn cameras was a good, transparent way of monitoring the police’s actions and it protected the people being stopped as well as the police. Now we have to rely on an officer’s report which is from his or her view. It can’t be corroborated.”

A Met Police spokes­man said: “In October 2019, following a detailed review, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) had to take the decision to discontinue the current process of sharing un-redacted body worn video (BWV) footage of stop and searches to MOPAC Community Monitoring Groups (CMGs).

“The MPS was an early adopter in using BWV in stop and search scrutiny which had proven very successful in improving transparency and confidence in its use of stop and search. Whilst we acknowledge the benefits of BWV, we have to observe our legal responsibilities to safeguard the rights of individuals, under both the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation.

“The MPS values the work of the community volunteers within the CMGs, and we are committed to working with our community groups, MOPAC and other partners to explore new ways of showing body worn video as part of stop and search scrutiny. On Monday, 20 January 2020, Commander Jane Connors, the Met’s lead for stop and search, chaired a meeting with a number of CMG chairs in attendance to discuss a way forward.”

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