The front of a police vest has become one of the key battlegrounds in the lead up to the Queensland election, with the state’s Labor opposition pledging $5 million towards a fleet of body-worn video cameras.
Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk unveiled the opposition’s law and order policy yesterday afternoon, committing to a commission of inquiry into organised crime and promising to match any increase in police numbers announced by the LNP if it wins Saturday’s election.
Just last week the LNP government also turned to technology to bolster its law and order credentials, promising to fund a 5400-device expansion of the police’s iPad fleet.
The Labor scheme follows in the footsteps of the NSW Police Force, which mid-last year received $4 million for its own camera initiative, and flagged its intention to buy 267 of the devices the following December.
Body-worn cameras are growing increasingly popular with global police forces as an evidence-collecting resource and to prevent violence and abuse directed at officers.
The state Labor party has not offered any further detail about the policy, nor how it plans to address the operational and privacy concerns raised by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart last year about the devices.
In September, Stewart told Fairfax radio he wasn’t fully satisfied his force was ready to proceed with a NSW-style camera implementation, because he still held concerns about how to deal with the privacy of children and victims that inadvertently came into view, as well as the amount of time officers would need to spend uploading the captured footage at the end of a shift.
The Queensland Police Union has welcomed the announcement, however, after an ongoing campaign to have the equipment delivered to police, particularly as a means of quickly resolving disputes over police conduct.
“The bodworn camera is the modern equivalent of the old police notebook,” QPU president Ian Leavers told iTnews.
“As we know in any major incident involving police, the body-worn camera footage is the very first thing that is viewed by any oversight body. This is a great commitment and will save police having to purchase this vital equipment themselves.”