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Force has less than a thousand BWV cameras despite 10,000 roll out target

‘Basic kit’ needed to help reduce court backlog by increasing number of guilty pleas

Officers in Scotland have fewer than 1,000 body-worn video cameras despite requests from senior officers for more equipment, according to new figures.

Some 682 devices are available for use by firearms officers, according to the figures, while front line officers in the north-east division have access to a further 259 BWV cameras - the only non-AFO officers in the force to do so. 

In September, Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) that he was “professionally embarrassed” by the slow rollout of cameras as he described them as a “very basic bit of kit”.

The force said it wanted between 10,000 and 11,000 officers to have access to the kit, with Chief Superintendent Matt Richards saying last year that the technology would help to reduce court backlogs.

Statistics obtained by the Scottish Conservatives using freedom-of-information legislation revealed Police Scotland only has access to 941 body-worn video cameras.

Jamie Greene, justice spokesman for the Tories, said:  “We know that these cameras would help reduce the court backlog – by increasing the number of guilty pleas – as well as protecting officers and increasing police transparency.

“But despite these clear benefits, the SNP have failed to invest in what the Deputy Chief Constable has rightly described as ‘basic’ equipment.

“The SNP have consistently failed to properly fund our police. First, they cut the capital budget – which these cameras fall under – and now they plan real-terms cuts to the resource budget too. And this at a time when officer numbers are at their lowest level in 14 years.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While policing matters and budgetary prioritisation are always a matter for the Chief Constable, we remain fully committed to using the resources available to us to support the vital work of Police Scotland in delivering effective and responsive policing across Scotland.

“Whilst we will do all we can, our largely fixed budgets and limited fiscal powers means we need the UK Government to provide the Scottish Government with the funding we need to support public services and the economy in these difficult times.

“Despite UK Government austerity, we have increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17 and have invested more than £10 billion in policing since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.”

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