South Australia will commit $13.3 million to the rollout of body-worn video cameras to all state police officers in its budget on Thursday, as well as funding for more than 850 tablet devices.
The SA government will become the third jurisdiction to pledge funds towards equipping police with small portable cameras pinned to their chest, which will capture incidents, crime scene evidence and discourage violence against officers.
Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said $5.9 million over four years will go towards the cameras, with the government anticipating it will need up to 1000 devices in total. The final number will be nutted out during procurement.
Police Minister Tony Piccolo described the cameras as an “additional safety barrier” for police.
“Body-worn cameras also enhance the quality of evidence collected on the beat, which will reduce both costs and time associated with legal proceedings and court appearances,” he said.
US police forces are leading the way on usage of body-worn video cameras, while in Australia the NSW government has already gone to market to buy 267 devices, enough to be shared amongst 1000 officers statewide.
Queensland Labor promised $5 million for body-worn video cameras before it won government in January. SA, however, is the first to aim towards fitting a camera to every deployed officer.
Another $7.4 million of the funding pool will pay for 680 ruggedised tablets set to double as in-car computers and portable data entry points.
“These ‘rugged’ tablets will be capable of being mounted in the vehicle and easily removed by officers when they attend events or scenes, thereby giving the benefit of both ‘in-vehicle’ computing and portability to capture, retrieve and submit information in the field,” Koutsantonis said.
Another 175 tablet devices will also be distributed to SAPOL officers.
SAPOL has been trialling 350 tablets from different manufacturers at its Elizabeth station since 2013. The Treasurer said feedback has painted the scheme as “a great success”.
The government forecasts the rollout will return the equivalent of 29 sworn officers back onto the beat by removing an estimated 165 hours per day worth of time wasted returning to the station to file paperwork. The financial saving will be $3.3 million per year, it claims.
The funding commitment also includes $4.1 million over two years to replace SAPOL’s HR and payroll system.