UK's armed police to wear head-mounted cameras

Cameras will be attached to caps and helmets in wake of death of Mark Duggan in 2011

armed policeman
(Image credit: Gideon Mendel/Getty Images)

Metropolitan Police firearms officers will be issued head-mounted cameras fitted to ballistic helmets and baseball caps, a recommendation that follows the death of Mark Duggan during a police shooting in 2011.

Undercover officers, such as the unit involved in the Duggan shooting, won't wear cameras yet as police are still examining how they can be best used in undercover operations, the BBC reports.

The 1,000 cameras being issued to armed response officers across London are part of a larger roll-out. Cameras are already being supplied to 17,500 frontline officers and by the end of October, 22,000 cameras should have been distributed.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

It has taken three years to create a system suitable for the force's firearms command, Sky News reports.

Armed police tried attaching cameras to officers' bodies but the quality of some footage was obscured, the BBC says. Shoulder cameras don't work either because the view is sometimes obscured when an officer raises a rifle to aim or fire, reported the London Evening Standard in 2015.

Today's announcement comes a month after the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed that fatal police shootings in England and Wales have reached their highest level in 13 years. There were six police armed fatalities in 2016/17, the highest annual number since the commission began collecting the statistics in 2004, The Telegraph says.

In January 2014, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who was at the time Metropolitan Police commissioner, said armed units would be routinely deployed with recording devices. His comment came after an inquest into the police shooting death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in north London, which led to rioting in the capital and other cities. Duggan wasn't holding a gun when he was shot.

Hogan-Howe said cameras would speed up justice for victims and help the force become more accountable.

In the US, where body-cameras and dashboard-cameras are more common, there have been complaints that officers can switch their cameras off and disputes about who has access to the footage.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.