WA Police to ask govt for body-worn cameras

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WA Police to ask govt for body-worn cameras

Wants to buy up to 5000 devices.

WA Police are preparing to ask the state government for extra funding to equip frontline officers with up to 5000 body-worn video cameras.

The agency is currently nearing the completion of a business case to introduce the technology after a six-month trial of equipment from law enforcement technology provider Axon in 2016.

It is keen to capture police interactions with the community to improve accountability for its officers, while reducing assaults on officers and increasing early guilty pleas.

The state's Commissioner of Police Christopher Dawson told a joint standing committee last week that he would be appealing to government for additional funding as soon as possible.

Dawson said he had "full intentions, as soon as I am able to complete that business case ... to put that before the state government and say: this is really important, not just for public interest, but I think for accountability and protection of all parties concerned."

He said early estimates put the cost of the initiative at “between $5 million to $10 million”, but that he was “not confident” the force has “the recurrent nor capital current budget to do this”.

The “major cost issue” is the training and the terabytes of data needed to store the footage from the cameras, rather than the the cameras themselves, he said.

He also indicated that the agency is looking at introducing other police technology as part of “a large body of work”.

This could include tablets and smartphones for officers to perform in-field data lookups.

“We are one of the few - in fact, I think the only police jurisdiction in Australia that does not [have that capability]," he said.

“But I do not want to just buy one bit of technology that is not integrated with a whole platform.

“That is why we are looking at it strategically: to make sure that we do not just buy one thing and then find it does not talk to the other.”

WA Police has been calling for new technology to refresh outdated IT hardware and relieve officers from manual administration for some time.

The new McGowan government brought forward $7 million in funding in this year’s budget for the agency’s IT optimisation program, which will update the radio core and telecommunications intercept system and beef up cyber security.

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