The London Metropolitan Police Service (London Met) recently announced it would be rolling-out 22,000 body-worn cameras for almost all of its frontline police officers by the end of March 2016. After the completion of its wearable camera trial program in ten boroughs, and a number of high-profile police incidents, scrutinised by the media and public, the London Met has taken action to boost public confidence and fight crime.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, and Bernard Hogan-Howe, London Met Commissioner, have both backed the deployment of wearable cameras for public facing and armed response police officers. The new technology is likely to restore trust and integrity in the police force, increase transparency and potentially reduce complaints against law enforcement officers. From its trial program, police officers using body-worn cameras achieved a higher rate of convictions, particularly for domestic violence crimes, and a greater number of early guilty pleas were submitted after offenders viewed the video footage from the cameras, saving taxpayers money from lengthy prosecution proceedings.
It has been stated approximately £10 million has been invested for the deployment of the 20,000 body-worn cameras, equating to £500 per camera. However, it is unclear whether this will include the storing and managing of the video evidence. Although not stated, it is highly probable the London Met will be predominatly using TASER International’s Flex or Axon cameras, retailing for £260 and £390 respectively. The London Met roll-out most likely makes it the biggest single user of body-worn cameras in the police sector yet. Last year, less than 18,000 body-worn cameras were deployed across the whole of the UK. In Valour Consultancy’s latest report on wearable cameras, over 36,000 wearable cameras are projected to be deployed and active in the UK police sector by 2015. More police forces in the UK will begin announcing body-worn camera adoption in the coming months.
Turning back to the London Met deal, I assume a free subscription to TASER International’s digital video management system, evidence.com, has been negotiated for a short time. Once the free period has ended, the London Met will be paying between £10-35 per camera per month. Assuming a mid-point subscription package (£22.50) per month x 12 months x 20,000 body-worn cameras, TASER International could be generating £5.4 million (US$8.3 million) per annum from just one customer for the use of its evidence.com services. This is a very good win for the American company but also an even more promising uplift for the overall wearable camera industry. Soon wearable, cameras in the police sector could become almost as common as badges.