As published in The Guardian:
Ex-home secretary backs trial of body-worn cameras in the Met
David Davis has welcomed the introduction of 500 body-worn cameras to police officers across London, noting that the Plebgate controversy could have been avoided if armed officers on Downing Street had been wearing them at the time.
The former shadow home secretary and senior Tory MP said they should be given without delay to every officer in Britain.
“If there’s a disputed event between the police and public there should be video evidence available and if it’s not there then there will be an assumption that it’s not been provided, that the police are culpable,” he said.
“Plebgate is the obvious case. Had it been recorded then the dispute wouldn’t exist. We wouldn’t be arguing about who said what.”
The Plebgate row centred on an altercation in which former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell was accused of calling officers on the gates of Downing Street plebs – a claim he strenuously denies.
Davis added that footage recorded by the body-worn cameras would have spared Scotland Yard from a “crisis of ethics” triggered by controversies including the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the death of G20 newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson and the killing of Mark Duggan, which sparked the London riots. “In each case there wouldn’t have ben any dispute over the facts,” Davis said.
“It’s an extremely good idea. Everyone will be a winner.”
Officers in 10 London boroughs were today being given the body-worn cameras – roughly the size of a cigarette packet – in a trial billed as the world’s biggest. To mark the start of the trial, the Metropolitan police released graphic footage of a domestic violence incident in London earlier this year. The assailant later admitted the assault after being shown the video footage and was jailed for five months.
Police chiefs believe the cameras will result in a sharp increase in convictions. The Met commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said the cameras would result in speedier justice for victims.