Filming suspects in police vehicles a "massive expense", warns chief
Scotland’s chief constable has expressed concerns over the “massive expense” in meeting a call to equip all police vehicles with video cameras.
An expert group led by former High Court judge Lord Bonomy last week recommended that Police Scotland give “early attention” to drawing up a programme to install audiovisual recording equipment in police vehicles.
Significant comments made by suspects en route to police offices could then be captured, while roadside interviews - which are currently recorded in note form - could also be stored.
However, Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House yesterday suggested moves towards body-worn cameras for frontline officers would meet similar aims.
The Bonomy-led group, which had been set up by the Scottish Government to consider safeguards in the event of the requirement for corroboration in criminal trials being scrapped, also called for all formal interviews with suspects at police offices to be video recorded.
Ministers announced their intention to remove from the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill provisions to abolish corroboration, though they are in the process of considering the suite of recommendations put forward by Bonomy.
House, who last month warned that “extreme measures” would be needed to achieve savings being asked of the service over the next 12 months, said they are still looking at the costs associated with requirements that are to remain within the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill, particularly around training.
“Some of the recommendations within Bonomy were significant [in terms of cost],” he added. “One of them was a suggestion perhaps that all police vehicles have internal video and audio recording, which would be a massive expense for the organisation.”
House, who was speaking before the Scottish Police Authority's bi-montly board meeting, is in favour of rolling out body-worn cameras to frontline officers after their use in certain parts of Scotland in recent years.
However, cost remains a major factor with the force estimating the funds required to equip all officers with the technology lies in the region of £5m.
The Police Scotland chief intimated further rollout would counter the need for Bonomy's call to fit vehicles with the technology.
“To be fair to Lord Bonomy and his colleagues, that [recommendation] may have been overcome with body-worn cameras, so I don’t think they expected that we would have body-worn cameras issued to all officers and separate systems in cars, separate systems in custody, separate systems in interview rooms," added House.
“It has to be integrated in some way. But it is still going to be a huge expense to the public purse and to our budget.”
Despite proposals on corroboration being dropped, House underlined the need not to "underestimate" the implications of the legislation, particularly around changes to police powers to arrest.
"The idea that that would change to a system that is more aligned with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act process in England and Wales is a massive amount of training for officers in itself," said House.
"There is a significant training package being developed to roll out for officers to acquaint them with the provisions in the Act and that will roll out as this year progresses.
"The difficulty is it is going to be in the same timescale potentially as i6 [single IT solution] rolling out. So we’re going to see some significant training demands on officers because the criminal justice stuff is going to have to be fairly intensive because it is bread and butter stuff for officers."