Shropshire Council

Body-worn video devices

Civil enforcement officers (CEO) undertaking enforcement of parking restrictions or environmental crimes in Shropshire are each equipped with a body-worn video device (BWD). The BWD has both video and audio recording capability. Officers are required to use these badges in accordance with a set of specific guidelines, which also specify how we'll protect and use any data captured.

1. Introduction

1.1  Officers undertaking front-line enforcement duties such as enforcing parking restrictions and environmental crime are vulnerable to abuse and threatening behaviour, both verbal and physical, from members of the public. We need to take all reasonable steps to provide them with a safe working environment and to minimise any potential threats to their wellbeing.

Similarly, whilst it is the nature of parking and environmental enforcement that we get complaints about the behaviour of the officers it is often the word of one person against another and it can be difficult to identify the exact nature of an incident. This may potentially expose our staff to false accusations that can be difficult to counter and makes it difficult to identify where staff may have acted inappropriately.

1.2  Video and audio recording of an incident is therefore invaluable in helping us identify and deal with such issues and to provide evidence of any such incident should it be required.

1.3  Visible use of body-worn video and audio recording devices (BWDs) can act as a deterrent to abusive and aggressive behaviour and has the potential to prevent incidents occurring, stop their escalation and record events involving conflict.

In cases which involve legal redress, they can improve the quality of evidence. Experience since they have been introduced, and from other areas where they are used, has shown that they have reduced assaults and allowed informed evaluation of complaints about staff conduct.

1.4  We have therefore issued each CEO with a BWD with the aim of making the staff safer and reassuring the public about the performance of our officers and the quality of the service we provide. The BWDs are lightweight and worn visibly rather like an identity badge on the CEO’s uniform and are therefore an overt method by which video and audio data is secured to evidential standards.

1.5  The objective of these usage guidelines is to ensure that good practice standards are adopted by those who operate the BWD recorder units.

2. Scope of the guidelines – What do they apply to?

2.1  These guidelines cover the use of BWD video and audio recorder units by CEOs and other officers whilst they are undertaking parking and environmental enforcement duties. The deployment of the BWDs to staff other than CEOs is decided on a case-by-case basis and can only be authorised by an operations manager of the service.

2.2  Parking enforcement work consists of patrolling to identify parking contraventions, carrying out observations of vehicles and activities associated with the issue of penalty charge notices (PCNs) when necessary.

2.3  Environmental enforcement work includes patrolling to identify and witness environmental crimes being carried out (such as dog fouling or littering), providing advice to members of the public on such matters and issuing environmental crime reports (ECRs) or fixed penalty notices (FPNs) when necessary.

2.4  All officers using BWDs are required to provide signed confirmation that they have read and understood these guidelines and agree to operate in accordance with them. In such circumstances, there are two spare units available for use. BWDs are issued to CEOs as personal items, however where either another officer uses a BWD or a CEO has to use an alternate device due to operational issues there are spare devices available.

If an officer has cause to use these spare BWDs this is recorded in the daily shift record sheet so that a record is kept of which officer used the badge on that occasion.

2.5  The equipment will not be used to provide evidence of parking contraventions or environmental crimes. The main purposes of the use of BWDs are:

  • To deter and protect staff from third party aggression
  • To provide evidence to support prosecution should aggression occur
  • To allow evaluation of officer behaviour and protect staff from unfounded allegations of inappropriate conduct and members of the public from inappropriate behaviour by officers
  • To provide evidence if problems are identified or concerns are raised about an officer’s conduct
  • To provide evidence to support criminal proceedings

2.6  The use of the units as described in this policy is ‘overt’. Although the units are small, they are not intended to be worn or used in a hidden or covert manner. If it is required to be used covertly, a request must be submitted for authorisation as required by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). It is not, however, anticipated that the units will be used for these purposes.

2.7  The BWD recorder units consist of:

a) The BWD video and audio recorder unit: individual BWDs will be allocated to individual CEOs and will be used daily to record events, including incidents of harassment and/or misconduct. The units themselves do not have a playback facility and do not therefore require a CCTV licence.

b) Video management software: this allows the recordings to be held securely. Access to recordings is controlled, and only persons having the authorisation to view specific incidents will be able to view them.

c) Docking station and charge unit: the units are placed into the docking station at the end of the shift and the images are securely downloaded via the docking station to the computer.

3. Authorised officers

3.1  In this document the term authorised officer means:

  • Professional public protection officer responsible for supervision of the parking enforcement function (PPOP)
  • Team manager responsible for parking and environmental enforcement (TMI)
  • Team manager responsible for the notice processing team (TMB)
  • Operations manager (OM)
  • Information governance officer (IGO)

3.2  Authorised officers are only authorised to view/amend/copy the data in the following circumstances:

  • On the first occasion that the units are allocated to the CEOs, this will be done by the PPOP. Thereafter, the units will automatically remain assigned to that CEO without the need to re-allocate them each time they are used
  • In the event of one of the units failing or the battery becoming discharged prior to the end of the CEOs shift, there are two spare units available for use. These are assigned as ‘spare 1’ and ‘spare 2’. If a CEO has cause to use either of these spare badges, this is recorded in the daily shift record sheet so that a record is kept of which CEO used the badge on that occasion
  • The TMI, TMB, PPOP and OM are authorised to copy flagged recordings for retention

The TMI, TMB, PPOP and OM are all authorised to review data that has been retained. When reviewing data, these officers can allow other individuals to review relevant data with them. However they must, under no circumstances, reveal their access details or passwords etc.

4. Data protection issues

4.1  Images of people are covered by the Data Protection Act and so is information about people which is derived from images. A privacy impact assessment has been undertaken as part of this project.

4.2  All recordings made remain the property of Shropshire Council, although there are certain circumstances involving criminal proceedings whereby the data may be released to other parties (such as the police). Once under the control of a third party, we're no longer responsible for the data or its retention or destruction.

4.3  There are three main circumstances in which data from the BWDs would be released to another party:

i. 'Subject access requests' from members of the public

ii. Requests from the police for evidence in relation to criminal incidents that occur in the district (eg if evidence/data of a crime has been inadvertently captured on the camera unit)

iii. Requests from the police for evidence in relation to an assault on an officer that has been reported to them

4.4  Under certain circumstances an individual may request a copy of any data of themselves (a subject access request). If a member of the public makes a subject access request, the request will be referred to the Information Governance team. The PPOP or authorised officer handling the matter will then liaise with the IGO in relation to the release of the data.

All such requests are to be handled in accordance with the council procedure ‘Access to your personal information’. If images of third parties are also shown with the images of the person who has made the access request, we'll consider whether we need to obscure the images of the third parties.

If providing these images would involve an unfair intrusion into the privacy of the third party, or cause unwarranted harm or distress, then they shall be obscured. Once under the control of the individual, we're no longer responsible for the data or its retention or destruction.

4.5  The police may request a copy of the data if they have reasonable grounds for believing they contain evidence that relates to a police investigation. Prior to releasing a copy of any recordings, a Data Release Log will be completed detailing the data released. Data will then be burned to a DVD and handed in a secure manner to the police. Once under the control of the police, we're no longer responsible for the data or its retention or destruction.

4.6  In situations where an officer has been verbally or physically assaulted by a member of the public, we may report this matter to the police and request that it's investigated and the perpetrator brought to justice. In such circumstances, a copy of the data will be released to the police to assist them in their investigation.

Prior to releasing a copy of any recordings, a data release log will be completed detailing the data released. Data will then be saved in a format to be agreed with the police, and handed to them in a secure manner. Once under the control of the police, we're no longer responsible for the data or its retention or destruction.

4.7  Authorisation for the release of data can only be made by the TMI, TMB, OM or IGO. Where authorisation has been given for the release of data a data release log will be completed in which the following specific details will be recorded:

  • Name and identification of the authorised body
  • Reference number from requesting body
  • Date and time
  • Purpose and reason for the release of data
  • Officer authorising the release of the data

4.8  On no account will we post or permit to be posted any data to the internet or provide it to the media, etc. Any requests for access to data for purposes outside of the scope identified in paragraph 2.5 should be referred to the Information Governance Team.

4.9  The units will not be turned on for continuous capture of video and/or audio data. The BWD shall be activated:

  • At the commencement of observations and assessments related to the potential issue of a PCN or ECR
  • During the issue of a PCN or ECR
  • For a period of mot more than five minutes after the issue of a PCN or ECR unless the officer is continuing further observations or assessments
  • At any time when the officer feels that the circumstances of interaction, the attitude or behaviour of a third party is threatening, abusive or aggressive

4.10  Data will only be viewed by an authorised officer, as outlined in paragraph 3.2 above, when an incident has been reported to them, either directly from the officer or via a customer complaint, on police or a subject access request, or if there is a concern about the officer’s conduct or performance.

4.11  It is important to inform people that video badge recording units are in use. The unit itself is held in a plate that, when the camera is switched on, reveals a yellow panel saying ‘Recording in progress’. In addition, the officer will wear a badge that states “Video and audio recording in operation”. In circumstances where it appears that a third party is acting in a threatening, abusive or aggressive manner the officer shall advise the person that a BWD is in operation.

4.12  All data recorded by the units will be retained for a period of 31 days before it is automatically deleted. Only recordings flagged for retention by an authorised officer, as outlined in paragraph 3.2 above, will be kept beyond the 31 days in accordance with section 5 below.

5. Data management and security

5.1  The video management software has an inbuilt AES256 level of encryption between the camera units and the software, meaning that the camera data cannot be accessed without the correct RSA authentication key.

5.2  The software programme is installed on only one computer which is not connected to any network, and is located securely in an office.

5.3  Any periods of recording that are flagged for retention are copied by an authorised officer to a secure storage location (a passcode-protected external hard drive). The external hard drive is stored in a separate location, away from the designated computer, and the passcode is known only by the PPOP, TMI, TMB and OM.

5.4  Data will not be reviewed unless it has been flagged for retention as described in Section 7 below, a complaint is received from a member of the public about the conduct of an officer, a data protection subject access request has been received, a request is received from the police, or a concern is raised about the officer’s conduct.

5.5  Data that is not flagged for retention is auto-deleted through the video management software after 31 days.

5.6  The BWD units store the information in separate data files for individual 15-minute periods. Data flagged for retention may therefore consist of more than one 15 minute data file.

5.7  A regular check will be made to ensure that the date and time stamp recorded on the images is accurate. This will be undertaken by the PPOP or TMI.

5.8 Retained or flagged data will be copied to the external hard drive, and will be deleted once it is no longer needed, and in no case shall it be retained for a period of more than five years from the date of recording or completion of investigation/legal process.

6. Camera operation

6.1  All cameras will be securely stored in an office. Access to this office is controlled and restricted. Only specifically instructed personnel shall be permitted to use the BWDs as outlined in paragraph 2.4 above.

6.2  The BWDs will be allocated to individual CEOs. It is important therefore that the CEOs only use the BWD that is allocated to them. In the event of one of the units failing or the battery becoming discharged prior to the end of the shift there are two spare units available for use. These are assigned as ‘spare 1’ and ‘spare 2’. If an officer has cause to use either of these spare BWDs this is recorded in the daily shift record sheet. If no spare badges are available, then the officer may patrol for that day without a BWD.

6.3  The daily routines and procedures for CEOs shall be as follows:

a) All CEOs must wear full uniform and deploy the equipment in the correct and approved manner.

b) At the start of their shift, the CEO will select the BWD that has previously been allocated to them from the docking station.

c) On first operation of the BWD in the shift the CEOs are required to log on to the equipment by turning the BWD on and identify themselves.

d) The BWD will then be operated as detailed in paragraph 4.9 above.

e) The CEO will then place the unit back in the docking station so that it may automatically download the recording through the management software for storage.

f) If the CEO has been involved in an incident or has any reason to believe that the data may be needed for future reference, they are to complete a ‘CEO incident report form’ and pass this to an authorised officer, who will then flag the evidence for retention (see Section 7).

6.4  The officer will attempt to minimise intrusion of privacy on those persons who are present but not involved in the incident by keeping the camera focused on the incident and not bystanders.

6.5  Should an enquiry be made, the officer must confirm to the enquirer that they are subject to recording and be prepared to answer questions as to the security of the data.

6.6  If any member of public demands that the BWD recording unit is turned off, the officer should politely advise that they are instructed to leave the BWD turned on in accordance with these guidelines. However, if the enquirer continues to insist that it is switched off, the officer should consider the need to disengage with the person to protect themselves against abuse, aggression or claims of inappropriate behaviour.

6.7  Any transfer to an unauthorised storage facility will result in legal or disciplinary proceedings.

6.8  The use of the BWD shall at all times be supported by other evidence such as contemporaneous notes made on the officer’s handheld computers or pocket notebooks.

6.9  The evidence recorded on the units will not be used to support, justify or defend the issuing of a PCN or ECR.

6.10  There are limitations to the technology and also the possibility of technical failures or operator errors that may hinder the production of the recorded evidence. Officers therefore need to remain mindful of standard evidence gathering procedures and must not rely solely on the BWDs, but also make a written record of any incident as soon as possible after the incident occurs.

7. Process for flagging an incident

7.1  An incident may be flagged for retention through various routes: officer report, formal complaint received, police request, subject access request, authorised officer concern.

7.2  Each time a piece of data is accessed, the video management software records this, allowing a full evidential chain of events associated with that data.

7.3  An officer may report an incident for flagging on the basis that they have been subjected to physical or verbal abuse, or they have had an interaction with a member of the public that they think has the potential to lead to a complaint being made about them. In such circumstances, the officer should follow the following process:

a) Officer completes an ‘incident report form’ highlighting the approximate time of the incident, and why they are flagging the incident for review and retention, and hands it to an authorised officer.

b) Authorised officer accesses the video management software and reviews the data made at that time to identify the incident. This may be done in the presence of the officer at the discretion of the authorised officer in order to ensure that the correct period of data is retained.

c) The authorised officer marks all the relevant files of recording for retention and copies them to the secure storage area (external hard drive).

d) All such copies will be retained for a period of five years after the conclusion of any action as detailed in paragraph 5.8 above.

7.4  If a formal complaint is received about an incident, the investigating officer will request a suitably authorised officer to access the video management software, identify the relevant recordings and save them to the secure storage area. This may be done in the presence of the officer involved in the incident at the discretion of the authorised officer.

7.5  If an authorised officer has a concern about the performance of a particular officer they may review the data of that officer to try and identify any incidents that would help assist them in improving the performance of that officer, or assist in any subsequent investigation into their conduct.

8. Complaints and misconduct

8.1  One of the benefits of this equipment is that it will assist in evaluation of allegations made against officers by providing direct evidence of the incident. Officers must not intentionally fail to record by, for example, turning away without good cause, deliberately obstructing the camera lens, or turning the camera off. Such calculated actions may render the officer liable to misconduct investigations.

8.2  If complaints are received about a particular officer on a regular or repeated basis, then the data might be used as a training tool to try and assist the officer improve their performance.

9. Review of this policy

9.1  This policy will be reviewed at least once a year and/or in light of legal and procedural changes.

Appendix 1: Backup procedure for video badge data

1. Video data encrypted and downloaded using video management software onto designated non-networked computer in secure operational office and saved onto internal hard drive on this computer.

2. Images auto-deleted after 31 days through the video management software unless flagged for retention.

3. Data flagged for retention:

  • 1 x copy saved to separate location on internal hard drive on computer in the secure operational office (and NOT auto-deleted)
  • 1 x copy saved to separate external hard drive (pass-code protected)

4. External hard drive removed after use and secured in separate location away from the designated non-networked computer.