"We are not afraid to be registered," said Secretary of the Police Association, Wayne Gatt. (Provided: Victoria Police)
New laws are needed to regulate the use of police cameras worn by the police force in the face of growing concerns about the potential for misuse of these devices, lawyers said.
- Police officers are supposed to have their camera turned on when they are on duty and may be asked to edit or delete footage for the court
- Lawyers call for greater police accountability, including legislation governing the use of body cameras
- Police union boss Wayne Gatt refuted suggestions that police could switch cameras on and off at any time
The devices are worn by more than 8,000 Victorian state police and 11,000 of them should be in service by the end of the year.
The police are supposed to activate the devices when they exercise their powers, including by making an arrest.
Although there are penalties in place to turn off the cameras, no action has been taken against police officers who have done so.
The Age said the state government had given police the power to process the offenses, instead of sending them to an independent arbitrator.
Lawyers say that there are guidelines governing their use, but no legislation.
Police say that if a recording is not made or stopped prematurely, the police officer must make a note describing the circumstances.
The guidelines state that agents may edit or delete sequences "when preparing evidence for a hearing in court, when absolutely necessary or required by law." The court may request an editing under a "court order". a judicial procedure ".
A group calling for greater police accountability is worried about too much room for maneuver as to the potential use by the police of his images.
"Just as the capsicum spray is used as a coercive torture tool for the police to get what it wants, the cameras worn on the body may" defeat "the public as a tool of accountability in the absence of review of the system of their use by an agency other than the Government Victoria Police, "said the lawyer Gregor Husper, of the Police Accountability Project.
Jeremy King, lead counsel for Robinson Gill, said the rules needed to be revised and laws should be introduced in Parliament to regulate the use of cameras.
"It's a legal black hole for now," he said.
Mr. King stated that it was difficult for the parties to access the raw view and that sometimes the police only provided edited excerpts.
"You have some form of responsibility that is fully controlled by the Victoria Police," he said.
Police union denies allegations
The issue of body-worn cameras was raised following the climate protests that took place in front of a conference on mining earlier this month, during which a policeman was photographed with a sticker on his camera saying "EAD hippy".
Police Association Secretary Wayne Gatt defended the policy, refuting suggestions that the police could turn the cameras on and off at any time.
He stated that there had been no case of deliberate abuse of the activation process.
"This is a technology that we have called for because we felt it protected our officers not only from complaints, but also from the many assaults they face," he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
"We are not afraid to be registered a bit."
Jacinta Allan, Minister of Transportation Infrastructure, said officers who fail to comply with the guidelines risk disciplinary action.
"The operation of cameras is subject to very strict requirements," she said.
"Any edition of this material is made pursuant to a court order and the gross footage may be made available if the court requires it."
More and more calls are being made in favor of strengthening the powers of the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) to control police behavior.
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